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Summit anniversary

April 4th, 2009

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

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  1. April 4th, 2009 at 20:40 | #1

    Any comment on Stephen Conroy and his desire to install a mandatory filter for the Internet using secret lists? It looks to me like one giant 24 x 7 warrantless wiretap. If he was installing this at Australia Post to scan letters, or if was scanning phone calls all in the name of keeping children safe would we still just roll over and accept it? It was not long ago that George Bush was insisting that keeping Americans safe required him to listen in on any phone call that took his whim. Is there no limit to the violations they can perpetrate in the name of protecting us?

  2. April 4th, 2009 at 22:28 | #2

    It isn’t a year yet. April 19-20.

  3. jquiggin
    April 4th, 2009 at 22:46 | #3

    That’s what I thought, Joshua, but I never trust my own memory on these things.

  4. April 4th, 2009 at 23:01 | #4

    Terje, they already do this at AusPost, have done for years, anything ‘suspicious’ (ANYTHING, not only p*rn) gets dobbed in and followed up. ASIO do it for every phone call too. Anti-Terrrrsm, you know.
    And, ‘yes’ apparently Australia not only ‘rolled over’ and accepted it but voted for it repeatedly.
    And, ‘no’ it appears that there is no limit to it.

    And the 20/20: Everyone always knew it was tokenistic, shame that the prominent participants who gave it a shot are not more willing/able to make a much bigger noise about how bogus it all turned out to be.

    Ian Lowe expressed his disappointment at the ‘ideas’ festival last week, shame the Murdoch howlers who were against the whole thing have gone silent on the question of follow up. How incredibly unexpected.

    It’s almost as if the editor in chief of the ‘Oz’ is Rudd’s child’s godfather, or a Murdoch editor took Rudd to a strip club, or, something…

  5. April 5th, 2009 at 07:57 | #5

    ASIO do it for every phone call too. Anti-Terrrrsm, you know.

    Sorry! Are you saying all phone calls are routinely monitored?

  6. gianni
    April 5th, 2009 at 10:24 | #6

    A summit which includes Miranda Devine amongst its list of the nation’s best and brightest can’t be taken seriously by anyone. It may have worked as a PR exercise for the Rudd government, an innocuous piece of faux-consultation, but beyond that it’s something that has deservedly disappeared down the memory hole.

  7. Jim Birch
    April 5th, 2009 at 10:58 | #7

    I don’t know about that Gianni. Firstly, while Miranda Devine isn’t everyone’s preferred poison, we wouldn’t want a summits staffed exclusively with one band of viewpoints.

    More generally, most people’s ideal government process would, I think, include a system of open and public consultation as part of it. As I see it, the fact that we’re cynical about the summit is part of the problem, not part of the solution. Do you dismiss the idea of a summit totally, or just this implementation?

  8. fred
    April 5th, 2009 at 12:55 | #8

    “Of course, a bit more rain in the Murray-Darling catchment …… would help.”

    Would it really?
    Who would it help and how?
    Remember the Murray Darling storage facilities were virtually full in late 2005 and yet only a year later the MD wetlands were barren because of lack of water.
    Water for the river that is.

    So say we did have a ‘good’ rainfull year and lots of extra water [relative to recently] ran into the river.
    Who would get it?

    I understand irration quotas currently are about 30% for Victoria and 18% for SA, dunno about NSW.
    Assuming lotsa rain and irrigators flex their political muscles and double, maybe even treble those quotas [up to about 2000 - 3000 gigalitres more than currently], how much is left over for the river?
    I suspect several successive above recent average rainfall years will have little benefit for the river.

  9. gianni
    April 5th, 2009 at 22:03 | #9

    I don’t know about that Gianni. Firstly, while Miranda Devine isn’t everyone’s preferred poison, we wouldn’t want a summits staffed exclusively with one band of viewpoints.

    I don’t have a problem if people with different informed, robust, reality-based points of view attend gatherings like the 2020 Summit.

    But Ms Devine fails on all three counts. She isn’t smart, she isn’t informed, and she’s the poster child for movement conservatism’s pundit welfare system.

    If she was the Australian equivalent of Milton Freidman, then fine, but I stand by my point that to have Glynn Davis select her on the basis of being one of nation’s outstanding public intellectuals is an insult to the attendees who are substantive contributors to public debate in Australia. Is she really the best we have to offer in Australia?

    Ms Devine is a loathsome, petty tabloid hackette who got her start in the Daily Telegraph, courtesy of the family name (yes, that Devine) and then moved to the SMH because it felt the need to curry favour with the Howard government by beefing up its “conservative” credentials.

    She’s the poster child for Prof. Quiggin’s exasperation over the right’s rejection of reason and reality in the name of ideological purity.

    There’s a reason the print media is dying. Stupid people writing stupid columns, fabricated from stupid, dishonest, specious, debunked for the 51st damn time, claims isn’t something that news consumers are willing to pay for anymore.

  10. April 6th, 2009 at 15:31 | #10

    [FILED UNDER "LIVE AND LEARN"]

    Pr Q says:

    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.

    It’s a very different story on climate change. The government started pretty well, but caved in to the big emitters

    You didnt have to wait a whole year to get a snark on the 2020.

    Like Pr Q I dont like to be conned so I had my BS detectors on full alert for 2020 jiggery pokery. The whole exercise radiated a funny vibe. So in the immediate aftermath (04MAY08) I argued that it was a gigantic PR stunt to co-opt the Left-liberal cultural elites:

    I see that the Left-liberal commentariat, in the wake of the 2020 summit, is now pretty much co-opted into the federal ALP’s political apparatus, going by the series of love letters to Rudd published that are flying back and forth accross the aether. He listens to you and, hey presto, you are eating out of his hands.

    Pretty cheap date.

    I leave commenters to make up their own mind on whether my bitter, twisted cynicism about Rudd’s political strategy was justified.

    My assumption was that Rudd’s political strategy was to hoodwink his Greenie supporters in order to make the sell out on the carbon policy easier to sell, by neutralising pressure from the Left. Which lead to the prediction that:

    Rudd…will do nothing…about King Coal.

    I leave commenters to make up their own mind on whether my bitter, twisted cynicism about Rudd’s policy agenda was justified.

    A couple of months ago the issue of duping intellectuals came up on Pr Q’s blog. As a way of showing that it occurred accros the ideological spectrum I more or less paraphrased the above theory and prediction:

    THe award for the biggest and best hoax of the past year goes to Kevin Rudd for his masterful duping of the Left at the 2020 conference. It is unfortunate but apparently inevitable that intellectuals have a chronic tendency to fall at the feet of New Messiah’s. Rudd and Obama have politically benefited from this tendency.

    I quoted the “cautiously optimistic” response of one conference attendant, to show that even the best and brightest (meant sincerely) were not immune to this temptation. This earned me the a savage rebuke from the normally mild-mannered Pr Q:

    This is utterly lame, Jack….In previous iterations of this same comment, I’ve seen you citing (as evidence of your superior insight) something you wrote on another blog a few weeks before the White Paper, when the government’s intentions had been pretty plainly telegraphed.

    As regards the Summit, I expressed cautious optimism. It turned out the caution was more justified than the optimism, which is usually the case I guess. But none of this justifies your absurd retrospective triumphalism.

    I dont like to think of my self as a sensitive soul. But this short burst of rapid fire riddled my blog-mojo with snark wounds from which it has only just recovered.

    Now I would be the first to admit that my “absurd triumphalism” was “utterly lame” and just a long-winded way of raining on Kevin “Frabjous Day” Rudd’s parade. So I didnt return fire, not wanting to indulge in pointless bickering.

    I understand that busy scientists have better things to do than chase down obscure comments by obscure commenters on obscure blogs. But its only fair to do a bit of record-straightening both to keep this blogs fact-checking record up to standard and for the sake of knowledge, without vindictive point scoring.

    [Said with a plaintive voice:]

    Please Sir, may I at least get a concession that my initial prediction was rather more prospective than “retrospective”?

    [Holds bowl out meekly.]

  11. David Irving (no relation)
    April 6th, 2009 at 15:48 | #11

    gianni @ 11, *Applause!*

    I was going to say something similar, but you beat me to it, much more eloquently and less obscene than I could have managed.

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