Invitations to the Australia 2020 Summit will be sent out next week. “The Government has reserved a right to make some appointments of their own and they can be people who either didn’t apply or people who did apply and we left out,” says Steering Committee member Tim Costello. “With the Prime Minister saying we want the brightest and best there, anyone with any sort of healthy ego felt compelled to apply, so it’s attracted absolutely brilliant people.”
Maxine McKew and I aren’t the only ones who think Australia is ready to start a new conversation about our identity. The Australia 2020 Summit secretariat received 7251 nominations for the 1000 spots. I wish them well with the winnowing — and wish myself good luck with my own application.
The real fun now is seeing who’s actually ready for the future, and who just wants to stifle discussion.
Human rights lobbyist Howard Glenn puts it well, and shows that he’s ready:
Why am I enthusiastic about a relatively small two-day conference in April? Because it is a big gesture which says clearly that we have permission to start thinking about the future again. The flow-on effects are already starting. Schools want to have their own future summits, difficult long term issues are emerging for community debate. And that’s before it’s all really started.
It’s only two days and 1,000 people. Who gets to go is not as important as the fact that it is occurring at all, and that there’s such media attention to the attendance. Some will see it as a revival of the mythical Keating elites; the start of European-style social planning; a talk fest. I see it as the start of a restoration of confidence in Australian culture, identity and ingenuity, and a faith that we can think about future challenges, and find what we need to face them.
So what about everyone else?