Australia 2020 Summit
The Australia 2020 Summit was a convention, referred to in Australian media as a summit, which was held on 19–20 April 2008 in Canberra, Australia, aiming to "help shape a long term strategy for the nation's future". Announced by the new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, the summit drew limited bipartisan support from Brendan Nelson and the opposition Coalition parties, and ran as 10 working groups of 100 participants.
1002 delegates attended the summit to discuss ten "critical areas". Ideas and proposals were invited from all members of the community, and an official web site was set up to accept submissions.
The 10 critical policy areas were:
- Productivity—including education, skills, training, science and innovation.
- Economy—including infrastructure and the digital economy.
- Sustainability and climate change.
- Rural Australia—focusing on industries and communities.
- Health and ageing.
- Communities and families.
- Indigenous Australia.
- Creative Australia—the arts, film and design.
- Australian governance, democracy and citizenship.
- Security and prosperity—including foreign affairs and trade.
- For a full list, see: Australia 2020 Summit participants
The summit was led by a 11-member steering committee, whose initial membership was announced on 26 February 2008. The committee played a key role in selecting the other participants, and each member led one of the working groups together with a government co-chair. Since the initial announcement, Dr Kelvin Kong (Indigenous Australia) withdrew due to family health reasons, and Dr Jackie Huggins was appointed to replace him. On 14 April 2008, an additional co-chair, Dr Julianne Schultz, was announced for the Creative Australia stream.
The members of the steering committee were as follows:
|Working group (stream)||Committee member||Government co-chair|
|Chair||Professor Glyn Davis||N/A|
|Productivity||Warwick Smith||Julia Gillard|
|Economy||Dr David Morgan||Wayne Swan|
and Climate Change
|Roger Beale||Penny Wong|
|Rural Australia||Tim Fischer||Tony Burke|
|Health||Professor Michael Good||Nicola Roxon|
|Communities and Families||Rev. Tim Costello||Tanya Plibersek|
|Indigenous Australia||Dr Jackie Huggins
(replaced Dr Kelvin Kong)
|Creative Australia||Cate Blanchett and
Dr Julianne Schultz
|Australian Governance||John Hartigan||Maxine McKew|
|Security and Prosperity||Professor Michael Wesley||Stephen Smith|
Several events were held in the lead up to the Australia 2020 Summit:
- 2020 Youth Summit: For 100 young people (15 to 24 years) from around Australia in Canberra, 12 and 13 April 2008.
- Canberra 2020 Summit: For Canberra residents, on the theme of innovation, in Canberra, 5 April 2008.
- Foundations of Open: Technology and Digital Knowledge: Australian National University, Canberra, 3 April 2008.
The summit was initially criticised for the near-absence of women on the 11-member steering committee who would pick the 1,000 delegates—only actress Cate Blanchett had been named. The Government responded by saying six of the co-chairs would be female politicians. By the time of the summit, there were three women on a 12-member committee. Additionally, other commentators such as the Institute of Public Affairs, Australians for Constitutional Monarchy and Australian Monarchist League criticised what they saw as the unrepresentative nature of the delegates, which in their view biased the final report towards republicanism and ideas such as constitutional reform and a bill of rights.
Some of the delegates themselves expressed criticism of how the summit was conducted. In particular, claims were made that the final paper which purported to represent the resolutions of the sub-groups did not reflect ideas which they had espoused or did include ideas which they had not discussed, possibly reflecting an agenda which had been determined before the summit. Others were concerned that hard issues, such as terrorism in the group examining foreign affairs and security issues, were ignored.
Journalist Nicholas Stuart was initially struck by the people who were not invited to Australia 2020, including two ANU professors Paul Dibb and Hugh White who had both advised Kim Beasley. Looking at the list of those invited, he found that the holes kept expanding as I looked further and further, searching for the others who should have been there. He said it began to appear as if one group of advisors .... under Howard had been replaced with another group of similarly hand-picked individuals, plus some media names. There was no continuing secretariat for any follow-up action for the recommendations from the conference or the ten subgroups or forums. Wayne Swan managed to get a review of the taxation system, to be prepared by the Treasury, but in May 2010 when Rudd eventually released the report, he rejected 135 of the 138 recommendations . Stuart wrote The 2020 summit provided a paradigm for much of the activity in Rudd’s term of office .... His rhetoric inspired and enthused voters. And yet .... and yet .... nothing happened. 
- Stuart, Nicholas (2010). Rudd’s Way: November 2007 – June 2010. Melbourne: Scribe. ISBN 9781921640575.
- "Australia 2020, about the summit". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Archived from the original on 14 February 2008. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
- "2020 summit not just another talkfest". The Australian (New Limited). 2008-02-04. Retrieved 2008-02-18.
- "Rudd opens 2020 summit". SBS News. 2008-04-19. Archived from the original on 21 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-12. "Mr Rudd says there were 1,002 delegates attending the summit."
- Australia 2020. "Steering Committee". Government of Australia. Archived from the original on 3 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-13.
- "Gillard deflects 2020 summit panel criticism". ABC Online. 27 February 2008. Archived from the original on 2 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-12.
- Maiden, Samantha (27 February 2008). "Rudd 'blokefest' attracts 3,000 hopefuls". The Australian.
- "2020 a 'blatantly political exercise'". ABC (The World Today). 21 April 2008. Archived from the original on 23 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-12. For other comments on Roskam's view, see "2020 summit 'a PR stunt'". ABC Online. 21 April 2008. Archived from the original on 25 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-12.
- Salusinszky, Imre (23 April 2008). "Bright ideas fade under controversy". The Australian. Archived from the original on 29 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-12.[dead link]
- Marr, David (21 April 2008). "Glimmers of hope survive in the mush". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2008-05-12. "Mush," declared Jack Waterford of The Canberra Times as he read their [the professional facilitators] attempt to boil down the first day's work of our "Open Government and the Media" substream – sorry about the language – of the Governance stream. He demanded to know: "What's happened to all our ideas?"
- Australian Associated Press (AAP) (2008-04-21). "Feisty debate at summit". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2008-05-12. "Dissention [sic] has emerged in the ranks at the 2020 summit with some delegates angry their ideas are falling on deaf ears, or not being heard at all."
- Allard, Tom (21 April 2008). "Diverse input, but little output". Sydney Morning herald. Retrieved 2008-05-12.
- Stuart 2010, p. 5.
- Stuart 2010, p. 6.
- Stuart 2010, p. 7.
- Stuart 2010, p. 256.
- Stuart 2010, p. 9.