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Monday, January 05, 2009

A-Span on our doorstep but 2020 Summit response now in the New Year.

Co-chairs of the 2020 Governance group John Hartigan and Maxine McKew

I thought maybe my memory was playing tricks, but no, the Prime Minister had committed in this media release on 31 May to a response to the Final Report of the 2020 Summit, held last April, by the end of 2008. So I had one eye out for this over the break. Not a thing, only to find this now on the 2020 website:

"The Government is considering all of the recommendations in the Final Report and will provide a response in the New Year."

But good news on one of the recommendations of the Summit Governance group that an Australian version of C-Span be established. A-SPAN- Australian public affairs television- will commence operations on pay tv and on-line on 20 January.The Prime Minister in launching A-Span in early December had some good things to say about the need to improve the way our democracy works:

".. A-Span will also be valuable for the wider public – students, for educators, for people following a particular policy debate, and for all Australians who want to understand more about how democracy works and how they could become more involved in it. A-Span is therefore good for Australian democracy. I think one of the charges we all face as those who participate in the workings and life of this great democratic institution is thinking of the generation ahead – how do you breathe life into it again? How do you actually sustain the arteries and the life force of a democracy? The debate about right to know, which John has been so intimately involved in, the debate about how we bring more meaningfully the deliberations of this place and the other legislatures of Australia, into the lives of Australians. I think each generation of politicians has a responsibility to make sure that the institutions are kept not just alive and well but reformed, reshaped, transmitted to those who come after us....

Australians will be able to see and understand our parliamentary processes more easily than ever before. A-Span will not just be a one-way process between Government and the Australian people, it will also give voice to many others in the public debate through its coverage of significant meetings held by major private institutions. That means a better educated public, a more informed public debate and stronger democracy. The Australian Government strongly supports new steps to strengthen our way of governing and to constantly reinvent the way in which the country is governed."

We'll all raise a glass to that.

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