The Australia 2020 Summit
was a convention
, referred to in Australian media as a summit
, which was held on 19
-20 April 2008
, 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 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 are as follows:
Several events were held in the lead up to the Australia 2020 Summit:
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, some conservative 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.