So we didn’t score an invitation to Canberra for the historic talkfest hosted by the redoubtable Kevinator! Alas, were it not for the power of the internet, the future would be denied our invaluable input into this process. We turn to the blog to, once again, shoutinto the void, in the vain hope that someone will hear us.

Tomorrow, I will try to evaluate some of the ideas canvassed at the 2020 summit — which, by the way, I support completely on the the grounds that it can’t hurt and may provide some genuinely interesting ideas for the Government to pursue — and discuss how they may impact my constituency. Today, however, I’d like to cover some of the issues which I hope will emerge from the plenary sessions as ideas to pursue and policies to embrace.
  1. Sustainability: While most people associate this with environmental concerns, I would follow Peter Senge and Andy Hargreaves in seeing this as an integral part of human being (yes, that’s a verb) in the 21st Century. While much of the globe is going to stay in the steam/industrial economy for some time, the transforming paradigm of society is the knowledge society. Inherently, that involves sustainability as an organising principle, because it needs to be a learning organisation: hence, it needs to be founded in nurturing rather than exploiting. A sustainable society will not only seek to stabilise the natural environment, but will seek ways of extending social good. The greatest step that could come from the conference would be an acceptance that the goal of a mature society is not economic growth or hedonistic satisfaction, but a renewal of the sense of community and communities.
  2. Political Renewal: While I would happily sign up to the ‘Republic Sooner’ flag, it’s a none issue compared with the problem of democratic leadership at the state level, and even — having experienced the dead hand of Howard and the boring as opposed to looney Right — at the Federal. We need to re-establish the independence of the Public Service and stop the spinning of the political story. Politicians need to lead and encourage their constituencies to recognise the consequences of some of the unsustainable behaviours that they, as Howard aspirational voters, have engaged in. Perhaps we should collapse the Federation into two tiers: a federal government with similar powers under the Constitution to that which it now exercises; and regional governments that would manage those matters now the concern of state and local governments. Imagine a Sydney basin regional government managing Sydney’s transport needs: it would be a lesser responsibility than that exercised by Ken Livingstone as Lord Mayor of Greater London!
  3. Equity as a social principle: For years we have tolerated the idea that the rich should not be inhibited in their acquisition of greater and greater wealth, while indigenous Australians, the sick, the mentally ill and the unfortunate become poorer and poorer. If we had a great tradition of public philanthropy, one would be less offended and concerned, but perhaps the tax system needs to place a greater level of obligation on the rich to give their largesse to the poor, or hand it over the the common-wealth to do it for them. The former is preferable, but the latter may be necessary … and down with the tax minimisation rorts that featherbed life for the top one percent! I should say at once that we are among the most fortunate in our society, and indeed in our world, and we know we should be doing more and recognising our capacity to contribute wealth and time, but we are nowhere near the level of wealth enjoyed by some.
  4. Education and Research First: not only will an dramatic increase in funding for education at all levels have a tangible benefit for the economy, we need to recognise that education is a prime indicator of social capacity to manage those in need. Education correlates with physical health, mental health, social stability, community acceptance, sustainable social behaviour … the list goes on. And it we are to confront the major challenges of bringing an acceptable standard of living to the poor of the world while caring and maintaining our environment, then research needs not just an increase in funding but a torrent of money, because the need is urgent and the potential solutions of such great benefit to the whole human family in general and Australia in particular.
  5. The rest are just details. I hope your listening, Cate Blanchett.