David McLennan in the Canberra Times (seriously) and Bruce Chapman in The Australian (amusingly) both highlight the problem of an over-ambitious plan to get 1000 people together for less than two days, with a blue sky agenda, in a process ultimately over engineered in the search for consensus. Poor preparatory material was also a clear weakness for mine, at least for the Governance discussion. Then there was the lacklustre government response a year after the event.
So what? Little gain but not much damage, you might say. Well for a government that came to office talking about the need to govern differently, The Age editorial on Friday cited this significant longer term impact:
"The attitude of both sides of politics presents a dispiriting contrast to the summit's bold vision of what kind of nation Australia should aspire to become by 2020. A year ago, summit co-chairman Glyn Davis said that, politically, "a government that ignored all of the views put forward by 1000 people would be taking a very high risk". The risk actually relates not only to the Government, but to Australians' perception of the worth of political engagement. If the summit briefly managed to get many people to suspend their cynicism about the political process, its lasting effect may unfortunately be to confirm the public's view that governments and politicians listen to the views of the community only when it suits them."