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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Australia 2020 Summit topics just a little clearer

There is now a website for the Australia 2020 Summit, which includes details of how to lodge a submission, and/or nominate yourself if you think you might be overlooked in the process and think you have something to offer. It also provides some elaboration of the summit topics.

The Governance topic - to date described as: "the future of Australian governance, renewed democracy, a more open government (including the role of the media), the structure of the Federation and the rights and responsibilities of citizens" - has now been more broadly described as follows.

"The Australian Government is committed to greater access to freedom of information, effective parliamentary reform and removing as many dysfunctional dimensions to the Australian Federation as possible. The Government is also examining ways in which Australians can increasingly deliberate in the making of government policy through a range of mechanisms, including community cabinets, as a part of a commitment to contemporary democracy.

The Australia 2020 Summit will examine:

  • How best to implement an effective an (sic) agenda of open government which best balances the legitimate requirements of the media and the confidentiality requirements of cabinet government in the Westminster system
  • How best to engaged the community in government decision making
  • What forms of Federation reform are appropriate for the future to maximise outcomes for the economy and the community
  • How to ensure the future viability of local government operations and infrastructure provision".
There is plenty here to keep some of our best and brightest fully occupied for two days in April but it's not clear whether discussion is limited to the dot points above. If so it seems unnecessarily narrow to limit discussion on open government to the requirements of the media. And what happened to the "rights and responsibilities of citizens"?

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