Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The 2020 Summit: Good Idea, Bad Ideas?

First of all, let me say that I think that Kevin Rudd's two-day conference - notionally involving the best minds in Australia - was a terrific idea. After 11 years of exclusionary, "mandate"-driven government, it is refreshing to see the political branches of this country re-engage with the nation that they have been elected to serve. Many good ideas were offered this weekend in Canberra (i.e. the creation of a centralised body to oversee carbon-trading schemes, the creation of nationally consistent transport laws, automatic voter-registration, etc.) and many old ideas (the republican movement, contitutional acknowledgement of the country's aboriginal history, a national charter of rights) were given fresh impetus. Given the eristical, contrarian nature of this blog, however, some of the - how can I put this? - shitty ideas from the summit also deserve airing.

Some of these less than luminary proposals (as published in Sunday's Herald-Sun and Monday's The Age) include:

  • "A smoking ban for all Australians born after 2008."

Controversial and oppressive in itself, ludicrous when contrasted with the other suggestions that tax revenue from cigarrettes be used to fund a national health agency and that all other drugs be legalised as a harm prevention measure (I look forward to the day when smoking crack is deemed more socially acceptable than smoking cigarettes).

  • "An annual national fitness test where citizens would receive a financial incentive if they pass."

"Fitness? Longevity? Looking attractive to the opposite sex? Nah, who wants that? Oh wait, you'll give me $50 for not being such a fat fuck? Sweet, let me get my Reeboks on!"

  • "Increased education about how death could be a 'positive experience' to avoid patients panicking."

Well I sure found my death to be quite a positive, life-affirming experience at least.

  • "Women would make up 50% of MPs."

Because a democratic system where the majority of voters are women must be inherently sexist.

  • "Installing women in a third of senior positions in the public and private sectors, including a female prime-minister and an aboriginal woman president."

Which is not too specific a request, but I think it does pretty much narrow down the field down to Cathy Freeman and that big girl from The Secret Life of Us.

  • "Setting aside certain seats in parliament and spots in government for indigenous people."

... actually, while we're at it, why not just abolish democracy altogether? Sure it may have seemed like a good idea in the past, but I find it hard to lend my support to any political system which deems John Howard worth keeping in a job for 30-odd years.

  • "A statement from the prime-minister on the creation of a non-violent society."

Which apparently narrowly beat out an opposing suggestion for the creation of a blood-soaked dystopia.

  • "As a broad theme, it was decided that by 2020 Australia should be known 'throughout the world for its diverse, fair, compassionate and respectful society'."

Good idea. I'll send out an email to the other countries and let them know they have it all wrong.

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