It turns out that Kevin Rudd never had the answers to our problems, after all:
The Prime Minister announced yesterday that 1000 of the nation’s “best and brightest” would be picked to attend a two-day summit in Canberra to articulate radical solutions to the 10 most pressing problems facing the nation over the next decade.
Rudd is now me-tooing Bob Hawke, who held a great summit soon after his 1983 win, both to show he was indeed “Bringing Australians Together” and to lock them in behind a program he’d largely settled already.
No doubt Rudd wants to achieve much the same thing - to prove he’s listening and to make what he eventually does seem like the agreed program of all sensible folk, and thus beyond criticism. In short: He’s looking for spin, not solutions. And he’s also buying time before actually doing anything.
I may be ungenerous. Rudd might really, truly be looking for practical advice he couldn’t get in the usual way, and may even get some:
Each of the groups will tackle a specific challenge outlined by the Government. These are productivity; infrastructure and the digital economy; population, sustainability and climate change; rural Australia; health; families and communities; the future of indigenous Australia; the arts; the structure of government; and Australia’s future in the region and the world.
Except ask yourself this. Will the 100 Australian experts chosen by Rudd to discuss, say, “the future of indigenous Australia” include many who believe a “sorry” is misguided?
Will the 100 who will discuss “climate change” included any prepared to point out that the world has in fact not warmed for almost a decade now, and the science of warming is most certainly not settled? Will the 100 who will discuss “the arts” include many with the honesty to point out that the arts now attract record levels of government funding, and our failure to produce much of quality lies not in a lack of cash but a lack of connection with an audience?
Already Rudd has made sure of his co-chairman, appointing his close friend Glyn Davis.
You see the dynamic. Rudd wants to prove he is listening, but is almost certain to appoint to his summit largely those who will tell him exactly what he wants to hear (aside from a few token and outnumbered mavericks and Liberals).
I may be wrong. But let’s see who Rudd invites and how closely he actually listens.
Yet there are other reasons to be cynical.
A summit is a grossly inefficient way to get the views of 1000 experts, where one presents while the rest listen. As anyway who has been to such corporate raa-raas themselves know, such things are usually about telling the crowd rather than listening to it. What’s more, it’s a format in which dissenters are marginalised and consensus imposed.
No, I susect this will be as much an exercise in spin as was Rudd’s “community cabinet”, and almost as unproductive.
Read more here. Or here.