Summiteers' Suggestions

My friends Bryan Gaensler and Macgregor Duncan have given me permission to post their 2020 ideas. Bryan is in the productivity stream; Mac is in the governance stream.

Bryan Gaensler

What is your idea for the Summit?

Tens of thousands of brilliant Australians live overseas. This community represents a huge, unutilised, resource. The government needs to mobilise the expertise and enthusiasm of this diverse group of talented expatriates. A first step would be to institute a hierarchy of “Return Fellowships”, through which high-achieving expats would make repeated short visits home.  This would provide Australia with access to the expertise and intellectual capital of world-leading researchers, and would lead to outstanding educational opportunities for our students. Providing our talented overseas citizens with opportunities to put something back into Australia represents a highly cost-effective way of boosting Australian innovation.

What have you changed your mind about?

Ten years ago, I thought that gender discrimination in the workplace was a fringe issue. Since I and my colleagues all regarded women as equals, surely inequity could not survive? I have since seen many talented women be pushed aside by entrenched approaches to hiring, promotion and work-life balance.  I have come to realise that gender inequity is an insidious thing. It is not enough that the workplace be good-intentioned.  Women will continue to be treated unequally until employers are pro-active and vigilant. That so much of Australia’s human capital continues to be cast aside is inefficient, wasteful and unfair.

Macgregor Duncan

What is your idea for the Summit?

I believe Australia needs a 24/7 public affairs television channel broadcast on free-to-air digital. An Australian public affairs network (AuspanTV) will amplify public affairs discussion within Australia and substantially improve our access to the best public affairs events, interviews and discussion at home and abroad. It will give Australians first-hand access to the global community of ideas and promote in-depth discussion of books, history and politics. Instead of limiting public affairs discussion to a few hundred insiders, AuspanTV will give access to scores of thousands. While most people assume public affairs TV will induce narcosis, the reality is different. AuspanTV can do for public affairs in Australia what C-Span has done in the US: 50 million viewers watch C-Span on a regular or occasional basis and the New York Times describes it as “the most gripping reality TV available”. And if Canada – a nation so similar to Australia – can support two dedicated public affairs channels, surely Australia can manage at least one.

What have you changed your mind about?

In recent years I have softened my views on religious faith and the role of religion in the community. I grew up an atheist and will likely remain so to the last. But increasingly I feel that religion can provide grace and meaning even without truth; and that, together with music and art, religion preserves something which has been elsewhere lost. In an age of diminished spiritual awareness, I think it’s important that the religious voice be heard.

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8 Responses to Summiteers' Suggestions

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  3. Russell says:

    From all the ideas and confessions I’ve heard so far I offer my proxy vote to Macgregor Duncan. (Is it understood that there’s no advertisements on this channel?). I have one doubt – radio current affairs is much, much better than TV current affairs – still, it’s worth a try.

  4. christine says:

    Well, I’m ‘voting’ for Bryan. Not at all because I’m female and an expat 🙂

  5. Can I just say thanks Andrew for putting these up. It’s good to have access to this info, especially that people are happy to share their thoughts on things that they have changed their mind on, which isn’t always easy to admit!

  6. Eric says:

    “Tens of thousands of brilliant Australians live overseas. This community represents a huge, unutilised, resource.”

    Unutilised by their home country, but surely not unutilised. And we import lots of skilled workers from countries that would otherwise be utilising them.

  7. Seneca says:

    Likewise thanks for these postings. Couple of questions:

    On the “return Fellowships”, isn’t the real issue one of doing what we can to make Australia as attractive to the current expats as the countries they are presently in, or do we just accept we are always going to have to provide the internatonal equivalent of “remote area incentives”?

    The ABC is going to put on a 24/7 news channel – does this go a long way towards meeting the ausspan proposal? As for provding access to the best in the world and so, don’t we already have that through internet access? Personally I don’t feel the need for a dedicated channel to pursue my interests in current literature etc.

  8. Aussie Equitist says:

    Bryan’s comments about gender inequality fit with some of my major concerns about Australian trends – though perhaps not for all the same reasons. Unfortunately, such discrimination is NOT confined to the private sector.

    I am personally surprised that so little commentary was focused on systematic gender discrimination during the dogmatic, divisive and draconian “Howardian Era”?

    Why was the Howard Govt not seriously challenged, about the insidious contraditictions to its serial rhetoric about women’s rights, families and the so-called “best interests of children”?

    Did anybody read the expensive glossy propaganda put out by the so-called Office for Women, which IM(not-so)HO was far more remarkable for the relevant information that it DIDN’T contain about women, than the highly partisan stuff that peddled about the chauvanistic Howard Govt?

    Australian women’s (and their children’s) rights were systematically and severely set back by decades through the compounding impacts of draconian family law, child support, tax, superannuation and workplace and welfare legislation.

    Notably, Welfare to Slavery/Work forced mothers of young children out to work from 1 July 2007, at the same time that the Howard Govt increased the stay-at-home money paid via the tax system to the (mostly MALE) SPOUSES of (mostly female) “dependant” Aussies who do NOT have dependent children! So much for purported low unemployment and skills shortages, eh!? Apparently, according to conservative pollies, the only valid and financially deserving Aussie woman is one who is already dependant upon a man!?

    Ironically, there were recent (separate?) mentions in this blog about the HECS (now oxymoronically known as “HELP”) model and Superannuation – neither of which legacies have benefitted Aussie women much.

    I recently received a Superannuation brochure from the Office of Women, which was both condescending and largely irrelevant to the real financial challenges faced by the majority of Aussie women, who are not generally in a position to take advantage of salary sacrifice and Superannuation Tax Concessions! Interestingly, it highlighted superannuation policies which both acknowledge and promote the relatively impoverished and dependent existence of Aussie women – i.e. the token Superannuation Co-Contribution and tax-deductibility of Spouse Contributions.

    Perhaps Andrew Leigh can point us to the most recent published data on the projections for HECS/HELP and Superannuation for Aussie women. Meantime, I understand that:-

    * Aussie women will disproportionately retire and/or die with unpaid HECS/HELP debts.

    * The largest superannuation subsidies (including massive and exclusive pre-paid pensions disguised as “Superannuation Tax Concessions) introduced by the Howard Govt will go to already-wealthy Aussie MALES (i.e. that group which was already MOST likely to be self-sufficient in their twilight years!) – with relatively (and absolutely) little going to Aussie WOMEN (who typically live longer than their male counterparts and will therefore be a bigger long-term drain on pensions)!

    Still with regard to superannuation, what’s worse, is that:

    * According to research conducted by the Australian Greens and the Parliamentary Library, for those earning over $67,000 (not many Aussie women currently fall into that category) it would be cheaper for the Federal Govt to budget to pay them the FULL pension when they ultimately reach retirement, than to continue with the costly and inequitable pre-payment of pensions via Superannuation Tax Concessions.

    * The annual budgetary impact of exclusive Superannuation Tax Concessions to pre-retirement wealthy Aussie MALES is likely to eclipse the total annual aged pension outlay within the next couple of years!

    Yep, the much-touted so-called “Biggest Changes to Superannuation” are NOT the smartest or most fair and cost-effective changes! They are one of many elitist WEALTHfare measures which Howard and Costello got away with, in the absence of critical scrutiny from the opposition and media!

    How daft these dogmatic conservatives are; that they can identify a problem and spend up big under the false-pretense banner of that problem, without actually doing much to address the problem – and without fear of being held to account for the nominal and opportunity costs of their socio-economically reckless actions!?

    The ACOSS proposal for mandatory ‘Poverty Impact Assessments/Statements’ has huge merit – but I would prefer that the emphasis was on equity than poverty.

    PS I hope that readers will see past my frustration expressed above – and consider the broader socio-economic impacts of dogmatically ill-conceived and financially expensive policies, which neither assess the long-term costs-benefits, opportunity costs nor address social equity!

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