By lunchtime yesterday I had given up watching the broadcast of the 2020 Summit in Canberra. Call me a sucker for punishment, but I couldn’t resist watching some more in the afternoon.
You’ll be relieved to know that the paint did dry and the grass did grow as I persevered. You know how it is. You keep watching a boring programme because it’s gotta improve. Well, it didn’t. Perhaps there were some sparks of intelligent debate in the smaller discussion groups, but the TV channels chose to jump from one introductory speech to another. We heard introductions, directions and orders to hurry up and speak. No loitering in the corridors, please.
There was a common thread in all the introductions. The chairs and co-chairs gave long-winded speeches about how crucial it was to be brief and to the point. And then they proceeded to explain why. These intros cut into precious time and sadly, that’s all the TV audience was allowed to view. The interesting bits in which submissions were discussed were not screened. The order of the day was speed. “Give us your ideas and be quick about it or else.”
At the end of the sessions there were speeches again by the chairs of each group. And then the delegates were sent away with a homework assignment. They had to write down the five best ideas in preparation for the next day, today. So regimented and with such a sense of urgency that I thought I was watching the coming Olympics.
How can something that is so urgent be boring as well? Well, I had the impression that there was a lot of “to-ing an fro-ing” but not much substance. Like watching the March hare, actually.
But nobody can blame the group organisers. They had to produce summaries of great ideas which had hardly been discussed. It’s ironic that the motto for the summit was “THINK BIG” when it should have been “TALK FAST”.
So what do I remember from the first broadcast? Well, there were charts to be filled in. Quick talking by everybody. Delegates being herded in and out of venues.
It was a bit of a blitzkrieg, really. The day was over and I wondered what it was all about. The fun fair continues today and I think that for one person, the 2020 Summit will have served its main purpose.
This person could teach Paris Hilton a thing or two about publicity. Nobody does it better than Kevin, our Prime Minister for all seasons.
Prime Minster Rudd will certainly continue his self-promotion campaign on Day Two of the Summit. He has already conquered the world with his knowledge of Mandarin. Wow! Imagine a Western politician who can speak Mandarin? (so can my blond Aussie daughter-in-law, by the way. Not to mention a former politician, Arthur Caldwell who studied Chinese when it wasn’t so acceptable to Australians)
So now there will be thousands of photo records of Kevin in his “Listening to the People at the Summit” hat.
He can live off that for a while, and distract us from high interest rates, a looming recession, high petrol prices and a sick health system. So far he has made with the mouth in two languages and his slogans could easily fill our empty dams.
Will he ever return to Earth and get down to the business of governing this country? I doubt it. Not while the circus is in town.
The following is part of my son, Joshua’s, tongue in cheek contribution to the Productivity Group:-
The best part for me was when I decided to get more ambitious and put forward that perhaps our goal should be to put an Australian on Mars by 2020. When queried about the cost, I elaborated that it was not part of the goal to bring them back — that was the expensive bit. But let’s face it, if that idea gets up it will have the quality of being new!
In my humble opinion, therefore, the Prime Minster should start learning Martian right now.