Summit or Nowt **

21 April 2008

**  A title only comprehensible to someone from Yorkshire (or, at least, the North of England).

Well, the 2020 Summit has finished and the papers are tearing it apart today.  1000 people were invited to Canberra (incidentally, at their own expense) to gather some “big ideas” for this country to take us through to the year 2020.  Not the “short-termism” that typically afflicts most Governments, and the Australian one particularly so, as they have only a 3 year term.

Each group of 100 had to come up with at least one Big Idea, and one idea that would cost little or nothing.  I was particularly interested in those –  is it because I’m mean, or because I’m an accountant, or just because we all say “Why doesn’t the Government do such and such”?  Well, I do anyway.

Tim Costello, who’s head of World Vision and seems a thoroughly decent bloke, said that his group (Environment) came up with so many no-cost or low-cost ideas “we could get rid of the Treasury”.   I’m sure I’m not alone in wishing that he’d been consulted many moons ago and then maybe we wouldn’t have had to suffer his incredibly ghastly brother, Peter, who was Treasurer for 11 years before the Howard Government was kicked out in November.  I’ve often wandered what sort of talk takes place over the Christmas dinner when the Costello family gathers together.

I haven’t worked my way through most of the suggestions so far but some of the low/no cost ones seem eminently sensible to me.  Allow people to pay off their HECS debts (the money they have to contribute to their university education) through voluntary work (at present it’s deducted from their salaries, as a tax).  Ensure that every child leaves school with a First Aid certificate.  A simple St John Ambulance course in basic life-saving skills would probably take about 2 afternoons out of a school year. 

And I hope some of the Big Ideas aren’t just going to be put back in their box and not brought out until the next Talk Fest.   

World Youth Day Update:  (Sorry, I’m not going to let this one go!).

Apparently, the body of Pier Giorgio Frassati is to be brought to Sydney for WYD.  He died in 1925.  I can’t bring a bar of chocolate into the country, or a wooden trinket from Bali, and I have to have my shoes disinfected by airport staff if I’ve so much as walked through a field overseas, but we can bring in the corpse of a man who’s been dead for over 80 years.   

**  Translation:   It means “something or nothing”. 



  1. This last is so bizarre. I gather that a lot of Aussie Catholics of Irish descent are completely gobsmacked by this one. Catholicism here is not simple – there are many strands, but the main ones are Irish and Latin (Spanish, Italian, Portuguese etc). It is this strand that worships relics and such. The irish-descended Catholics tend to be rather embarrassed by this kind of thing – like the holy fence post at Coogee.

  2. I’m not from Yorkshire or northern England [although I was ‘made’ in London, born in Sydney] but I understood the title!

    WYD/week is a bit too over-the-top; why can’t they use the Stadium? After all it was built to host big events! I’m sure it would be cheaper to reinstate the previously-removed-seating than pay for Randwick Racecourse! And it’s heck of a lot easier to get to for most Sydney-siders!

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