As this snarky Crikey/LP post by Jeff Sparrow reminds me, it’s now a year since the 2020 Summit, though the change in the global scene, both economic and political, makes it seem a lot longer.
Looking back at my post immediately after the event, my main point was that, on water and climate (the issues I worked on), “the real message was not so much the need for new ideas (though there were some good ones) but the need to act much more urgently on what we already know”.
As regards water, things have, in general, gone as I would have hoped. There has been more progress on such issues as buying back water for environmental flows in the last year than in the entire term of the Howard government. And while there are still plenty of problems, my general sense is that we are moving towards a much more coherent policy. Of course, a bit more rain in the Murray-Darling catchment (and Brisbane!) would help.
It’s a very different story on climate change. The government started pretty well, but caved in to the big emitters (and maybe to the spurious idea that it could get the backing of the Coalition) when it announced its policy in December. Still, given that it seems impossible that the current plan can secure the support of either the Coalition or the Greens, there’s still the chance of something better.
On openness to new ideas, the government has a mixed record. It’s done pretty well in relation to the financial crisis, making some big policy changes without panicking. And at least in rhetorical terms, Rudd has recognised that there is no going back to the status quo ante. Whether this is reflected in the Budget remains to be seen.
Finally, there’s the Republic, about which, as Sparrow points out, nothing has happened. As I said at the time, this is as I hoped and expected. If the Rudd government can get us through the financial crisis, and produce a sustainable response to climate change, I doubt that it will have much trouble securing support for a republic. But until that happens, let’s leave the Republic as it came out of the Summit – inevitable and desirable, but not at all urgent.Underworld film This Girl’s Life download