[LINK] Australia 2020 Summit Response

Tom Worthington Tom.Worthington at tomw.net.au
Sat Apr 25 10:09:53 AEST 2009

The Australian Government issued "Responding to the Australia 2020 
Summit" on 22 April 2009 <http://www.australia2020.gov.au/response/>. 
This 262 page document is in response to a summit held 19 to 20 April 
2008. A final report from the summit was issued, 31 May 2008 but it 
has taken the government almost a year to respond.

I took part in two local summits: the Canberra 2020 Summit held 5 
April 2008 supported by the ACT Government and the Open 2020 Local 
Summit 3 April 2008 organized by Senator Lundy with my assistance at 
the Australian National University. In addition I made an individual 
submission. Generally the proposals I helped prepare on improved 
access to education online were accepted, but those for open access 
and changes to governance were rejected by government.

The Open 2020 summit concerned itself with issues of the Internet, 
use of open source and open access information, education and 
sustainable development. A quick check of the government response 
shows 8 references to "Internet", 6 of which are in items which will 
be progressed by government, one to be considered later and one 
rejected. There is only one reference to "web" which is in a rejected 
item. "Open Source" does not occur in the document. "Open Access" 
occurs eight times, four of which are in reference to the National 
Broadband Network and are in items accepted, one for reform of crown 
copyright to be considered later, one for use of computer searches 
for FOI (proposed by me) was rejected. There were two references to 
"open access" for reducing the period after which government 
documents are accessible from 30 years to 20 years, one of these 
indicates the proposal will be progressed, whereas the other seems to 
say the same proposal was rejected.

Proposals for greater access to online education, particularly for 
regional communities were accepted. "E-learning" occurs three times 
in the document, in ideas accepted by the government:

    "Expansion of online education in tertiary and secondary schools 
to ensure that courses are accessible to remote, rural and regional 
people via virtual classrooms, online tutors and mentors, e-learning 
tele-education centres, and better use of hard infrastructure such as 
school buildings for out-of-school-time use."

Overall the government response to the summit was adequate, but so 
slow as to make the exercise of little value and not worth the effort 
expended on it. In the age of the Internet a year is a very long 
time. What goodwill the government had was squandered by raising 
expectations with the summit and then failing to deliver within an 
acceptable time period. Any future similar request for consultation 
by the Government should be treated much more skeptically by the public.

In addition the government failed to make use of the available 
technology to carry out consultation in an efficient and timely way. 
Making the participants travel thousands of kilometers to one place 
for a few days and then exclude the rest of the Australian population 
from taking part is unacceptable. This showed either a lack of 
competence by the government, or a deliberate and cynical decision to 
exclude the majority of citizens from taking part in a meaningful 
way. The government rejected offers to assist with an online 
component to the summit.

The Government response to the 2020 Summit was issued in the form of 
a 1.8Mb PDF document, in PDF documents by chapter and with versions 
also supplied in RTF and Microsoft Word formats. The government did 
not provide an easy to read web based version of the document. The 
document provided is very difficult to read.

A version of these comments with links to the mentioned document is 

Also I extracted the tables of the ideas accepted by government and 
reformatted them as HTML to make them easier to read. These would be 
better formatted not as tables, but given the encoding of the source 
document, this proved too difficult to change:

1. The productivity agenda 
2. The future of the Australian economy 
3. Population, sustainability, climate change, water and the future 
of our cities 
4. Future directions for rural industries and rural communities 
5. A long term national health 
6.  Strengthening communities, supporting families and social 
7. Options for the future of Indigenous Australia 
8. Australia's future security and prosperity in a rapidly changing 
region and 

Tom Worthington FACS HLM tom.worthington at tomw.net.au Ph: 0419 496150
Director, Tomw Communications Pty Ltd            ABN: 17 088 714 309
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617                      http://www.tomw.net.au/
Adjunct Senior Lecturer, Australian National University  

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