On 19-20 April, I’m fortunate enough to be a participant in the national 2020 summit. I had a prequel of what it might be like via the ACT 2020 summit today. There were 300 participants, divided into 20 groups. Not surprisingly, I joined one of the three education streams. I learned a lot from the discussion, but quickly found things descending into consultant-speak. With a group of 15 people, it’s easier to get up a vague idea than a concrete proposal. Ideas like paying teachers more to teach in disadvantaged schools, raising the school leaving age to 17, and making everyone learn a second language invariably attracted a black ball from someone in our group.
Among the ideas that the ACT summit will put forward to the national summit are these:
- Create more tax incentives for venture capital investment.
- Build a high speed Sydney-Canberra-Melbourne rail line.
- Sign a treaty between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
- Employ an arts practitioner in every workplace.
- Define creative arts funding as a share of GDP.
- Mandate superannuation to invest in venture capital.
- Develop the concept of a ‘wellness footprint’ and associated metrics through a central body.
- Promote wellness through all stages of life.
- Housing construction in Canberra to be the most sustainable in Australia.
- Raise public transport participation rates from 7% to 50%.
- Greater support for parents and families.
- Create ‘super regions’ (pop about 1 million).
- Equitable education and training.
- Recognise the importance of teachers.
- Redesign and reconceptualise schooling in the ACT.
- Canberra as a global city.
I like some of the above ideas, but am less keen on others. However, one of the things that you can tell from the above list is what happens if you put people with a single expenditure priority in a room and don’t give them a budget constraint. I have to hand it to those creative folks:Â they’re very creative in the ways they ask for government money.
I had previously been thinking that all one needed for the 2020 summit was a single big idea (I’ll post mine in the next week or so). But the lesson for me from today – and from the above list – is that any idea with less than 90% support on Day 1 is going to get killed. There simply isn’t time to persuade sceptics.
Aside from this, I did enjoy the conversations at the ACT summit, finally getting a chance to meet regular commenter Kevin Cox, to run into Clive Haggar, and to hear Jon Stanhope speak on Indigenous issues (it struck me that he’s one of the most inspiring non-Indigenous Australian pollies on this topic).