For those of you not in the know, the 2020 Summit was a weekend in our national capital when the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, invited 1000 people to share their ideas on the future of Australia, specifically with regards to where we would like to be in the year 2020.
10 groups were set up: Communities & Families, Productivity, Governance, Creative Australia, Indigenous, Health, Rural, Security and Environment.
Much has been written about the 2020 Summit, most of it by far better writers than I. And, admittedly, by far more knowledgeable writers than I.
And I’m sure that in the coming weeks the event will be dissected, analysed and assessed from every angle. Many of the high-profile ideas will be critiqued and discussed, and maybe the same can be said for some of the lower-profile ones.
But what this event has achieved, more than anything, is to get people talking again.
For far too long, Australia was a country were nobody really asked anything of anyone, much less our leaders. We all just plodded along, looking after ourselves and ignoring everything else. The 11 long years of the Howard government led to many things, but by far the most obvious consequence was that we became a nation of ostriches – all 20 million of us had our heads buried deep in the sand.
There is a reawakening.
People are talking about things, debating ideas and becoming passionate about subjects and issues that no one has spoken about for years.
When Kevin Rudd went to meet the Queen in London he was asked whether he would broach the topic of an Australian Republic – an idea that has been neither seen nor heard since its death by referendum in 1999 – and in response said something along the lines of “I think it will happen eventually, but I don’t think that time is now.”
This line was repeated in every newspaper, every TV news, every radio news broadcast in the country. And then the Day Two stories began – people being interviewed about whether they thought now was the right time to reappraise the Republic debate.
And then, only a matter of days after the PM declared the Republic was an idea for another time, everyone was talking about it. Talkback radio, letters to the editor, taxi drivers, people at bars, people in the streets – everyone was talking about the idea of an Australian Republic.
And now, the main recommendation to come out of the 2020 Summit is that Australia needs a complete overhaul of its system of government – with a Republic at the top of that new system.
If nothing else, people are talking…