2020–the summit vision in hindsight

Kevin Rudd talked about “opening a window on our democracy to let some fresh air in.” But how fresh was the 2020 summit?

If imitation is the sincerest form or flattery, then 2020 left some good reasons to be worried about whether Kevin Rudd is imitating failed British Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair. Even before the summit got started, it was revealed that Kevin Rudd’s main summit suggestion of a “one-stop child care shop” had been floated by Blair ten years ago.

Former Labor premier of Western Australia, Geoff Gallop, hastily explained that there had been a flow of ideas between the “antipodes” and “the old country” in recent years. “Kevin Rudd is interested in public policy independently of ideology,” Gallop said, “He’s interested in how you can be effective in an era of globalisation and that was the big Tony Blair question. (Former Blair health minister) Alan Milburn has played a role with Kevin.” Hardly re-assuring.

The Blair government was notorious for theorising the economic rationalism and privatisation of the Hawke and Keating era into its own conservative “Third Way” politics. But by the end of the summit, nobody remembered the one-stop shop proposal. The big ideas Rudd took from the summit were-wait for it-tax reform and the Republic.

Senior business figures reported Kevin Rudd agreeing that the 30 per cent corporate tax rate was too high. During discussion, Mr Rudd, sitting on the floor, intervened to say, “We need to be globally competitive, and the OECD trend is for corporate taxes to go down.” Maybe that came from Tony Blair too.

Were there fresh ideas in the session dealing with climate? Not according to Anna Rose of the Youth Climate Coalition: “I found myself in the climate stream with representatives of coal mining companies including Xstrata and Shell, yet…No-one from Friends of the Earth, the Australian Conservation Foundation, Greenpeace, Climate Action Network Australia or any of the State Conservation Councils.”

“Why on earth would the coal industry be represented but not the climate movement..?” Good question.

Another good question concerned the very selective reporting of the Indigenous affairs discussion. According to news reports of the first day, “The creation of a treaty proved the most popular suggestion


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