Australia 2020: The Disillusionment

Photograph of Kevin Rudd from The 7.30 Report

When Chairman Rudd announced the Australia 2020 Summit the euphoria kicked in like a clean hit of a fresh new political drug. After 11 drab years of John Winston Howard, Change! Big, bright colourful change with sparkly bits and the sound of a thousand sitars! But now the euphoria’s wearing off. We’re coming down — and the Main Event is still a month away.

Kevin still looks pretty cheerful, though, doesn’t he. Why is that?

Look back through everything I’ve written so far and you can see the moodswing. “Chairman Rudd’s got a clever strategy going,” my first post began. Another post was headlined Australia, let the Enlightenment begin!, quoting Maxine “Toadslayer” McKew and agreeing that the nation was ready to start a new conversation about its destiny. At the end of February I even nominated myself.

Given Rudd’s claim that his government would be open and transparent, and develop policies based on evidence, it all sounded pretty good.

As days go by, however, it’s become increasingly clear that the potential of the event will be stifled by the political “need” to placate the same old whingeing lobby groups, the same old middle-class middle-aged white men in dark suits (just flick through the Steering Committee) and, it seems, the “need” to pre-load the agenda with specific topics to… well, let’s explore that.

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Weekly Poll: Who cares about Australian of the Year?

A country music singer that many (most?) Australians have never heard of is Australian of the Year. Does anyone care?

Chairman Rudd reckons:

Lee Kernaghan’s music resonates with every Australian by connecting us all to the spirit of the bush, but more importantly he gives hope and pride to those on the land when they need inspiration most.

He has rolled up his sleeves to make a real difference for those in need in rural Australia.

Pull the other one, Kevin.

OK, Kernaghan has certainly worked hard to lift morale in the drought-stricken bush. But when 98% of us live in urban areas, and 30-odd percent were born elsewhere, can we really say that nasal, droney bush ballads represent our world?

In fact, does a concept like “Australian of the Year” even matter in 21st Century Australia?

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