Monday, April 21, 2008

Summarily summarising the Summit

Amusing: ABC2's live ongoing coverage of the 2020 Summit, interspersed with 'expert commentary', as though it were the Olympics ('well we might leave governance there for the moment and cross to the arts now, where local hope Claudia Karvan is in with a real chance of winning the gold ... en opportunity to speak about acting in schools' etc).

Tragical: That I actually watched ABC2's coverage to know this was the case.

Thoughts: The gist of the Summit as I saw it was, 'blah blah blah, lots of ideas from diverse range of people, blah blah blah, condense into one or two key messages to report back to wider gathering of delegates, blah blah blah aren't we wonderful and isn't Hugh Jackman just delightful with his roaming mike and witty impros, blah blah blah'.

So here are my three takeaways:

1. Pad see ew with steamed rice K-Rudd's a bit damned either way. The critics were already lining up to label the Summit a useless lefty gabfest before the first gabber had even opened their gab. It strikes me when I think about it for a bit that of course conservatives would be opposed to a brainstorming of ideas for the future, since by definition they're mostly about preserving the status quo - living in the present but desperately wishing they could reconstruct and live in the past. It's almost like the future is anathema to them.

Having said that, I did hear a truckload of wank emanating from the many lefty-oriented folk speaking that the Summit. Buzzwords and tokenism abounded and the initial report does somewhat conjur up Monty Python's solution to the Meaning of Life:

M-hmm. Well, it's nothing very special. Uh, try and be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.

And, finally, here are some completely gratuitous pictures of penises to annoy the censors and to hopefully spark some sort of controversy, which, it seems, is the only way, these days, to get the jaded, video-sated public off their fucking arses and back in the sodding cinema. Family entertainment? Bollocks. What they want is filth: people doing things to each other with chainsaws during tupperware parties, babysitters being stabbed with knitting needles by gay presidential candidates, vigilante groups strangling chickens, armed bands of theatre critics exterminating mutant goats. Where's the fun in pictures? Oh, well, there we are. Here's the theme music. Goodnight.

(The second paragraph is not really relevant - I've just always found it piss funny.)

All very nice and cuddly, just not sure how this will translate into reality. Then again, I think that's the problem inherent within such a forum - it's meant to be lofty, dreamy ideas, not pragmatic, short-term funded solutions, bouncing off each other. Maybe we should give the Rudd government a few months to see how it actually translates all this feedback into proposed legislation and policy. We may yet be pleasantly surprised. Or not.

And it is nice to see a PM making at least a pretence of long-term vision for the nation instead of focusing solely on personal short-term survival. After a decade of Howard and a couple of years of Iemma, this is ... distinctive, to say the least.

2. Becoming a republic, abolishing the third level of government (most likely the middle one, goodbye states) and enshrining a bill of rights are all admirable goals, and will probably all eventually happen, even in Australia. I'm just not sure the impetus for all these reforms will arise from a talkfest. If anything, it kinda gives neocons further ammo with which to argue that such concerns are the terrain of the Deadly Elite ('only Rudd-loving lefty summit gabbers support elitist ideas like a bill of rights' etc).

Such reforms must germinate at the grass-roots level, and then be adopted and driven by both a federal government and PM showing true leadership and enthusiasm, ideally with bipartisan support. Convincing Victorians that in a two-tier federation, they'll be for all intents and purposes Tasmanian, will be no easy task - or indeed, convincing all non-Queenslanders that they'll be Queenslanders (shudder). Doing away with a monarchical constitution that has generally served the country well for over a hundred years won't happen just because a bunch of luvvies say at a summit that it's a nice thing to do. All these reforms will require overwhelming 'yes' votes at referenda to have any mandate. I'm not sure the Summit much assisted this long-term goal.

3. Look, I love Cate Blanchett, I do. I mean, what's not to love? She's gorgeous, articulate, insanely talented and essentially personifies Sydney on the international stage in a classy, glamorous and highly marketable manner.

But FFS Australian media, when it comes to Cate Blanchett do you reckon you could just get your hand off it for five minutes?! The Summit and media coverage thereof focused WAY too much on La Blanchett and her recently expunged spawn, to the point where the sulky critics whinging that it was too much of a Rudd/A-list love-in have some cred.

I know she was one of its head-honchos, and an attractive face of the thing to present, but I'm pretty sure you couldn't trawl through all the 2008 issues of every major Oz newspaper without finding one report somewhere on what Cate's up to. The Smuh's Stay In Touch column could easily be re-tuned to 'Stay In Cate'. She's lovely. WE GET IT.


That's probably about it for a while, kidlets. Heading to Euro on Thursday and not sure I'll have the time and/or enthusiasm to blog on it as comprehensively as i did in '05. Fark, has it really been nearly 3 years already? Who'd've thunk.

Anyways, there'll be Facebook shots, no doubt. Toodles.

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At 21/4/08 1:13 pm, Blogger Ken_L said...

I thought the whole summit process was deeply flawed but I love the way it's got up the noses of the conservatives so much. Some of them are positively deranged in their frenzied outrage that the despised progressives could become mainstream again so quickly.

Travel safely. I've enjoyed your posts.

At 21/4/08 1:55 pm, Blogger Sam said...

Cheers Ken.

At 24/4/08 1:02 am, Blogger Jacob said...

Happy travels, Sam! I might have to sign up for facebook again just to see the photos.

At 1/5/08 9:16 pm, Blogger mscynic said...

I come back and you're leaving? Safe travels, my friend. May you enjoy many wonderful and unique experiences. x

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