Australian Lefty on Politics, Governance, Science and Info Management

2020: obfuscating the REAL agenda

Posted by Dave Bath on 2008-04-27

While the media and politicians talked about moving to a republic as the "big idea" from the 2020 stream on "The future of Australian governance: open government (including the role of the media), the structure of government and the rights and responsibilities of citizens", my sampling of 30-odd submissions from that stream shows a completely different focus.

Apart from off-topic submissions, those from the Australian Republican Movement, and those from schools (where a republic was included as a leading question in the "discussion points" presented to them by the government), only one mentioned a republic.

So, what were the dominant themes of submissions on the future of governance?

  • A human rights charter
  • Better consultation with citizens, including provision of e-Democracy (rather than mere e-Voting)
  • Greater accountability from politicians, including independent auditing of government advertising
  • Better direct access to information held by the government.

The spruiking of a republic by the government seems to be an attempt to distract attention from the real issues that affect governance.

I hate to admit it, but I think the Herald-Sun’s anti-intellectual-in-residence Andrew Bolt has been spot on with his critique of the government’s motives and methods.

Such actions seem consistent with the many comments, even in the press, that the 2020 gabfest was little more than a media stunt, and a way of pre-emptively stopping the intellectuals from attacking the government’s agenda early in the term, by making them feel they might be listened to.

I’d hoped for better.  I hope later reports on the summit will more accurately reflect the opinions of citizens.

Has anyone else looked through the submissions from the governance stream, with a different random sample, and seen a strong call for what KRudd and company are representing as the agenda?

Has anyone looked through the other streams and found that the politicians have spun or obfuscated less?

I think the citizenry and even the media have merely had sweet nothings whispered in their ears – and like a battered spouse being promised "I won’t do it again", have been sucked in by these too-smooth operators now in power.

  • Other 2020-gabfest posts
  • Update: "How to win friends and influence people" (Larvatus Prodeo, 2008-05-01) discusses the attitudes of summitteers (I can’t help humming S-U-M M-I-T Double-E R-S… showing my age)

    So incensed are the delegates that attended the Creative Australia strand of the 2020 summit, they are now forming an advocacy group from within to keep a check on the Federal Government.

    What’s angered the delegates to this point? The censorship of ideas within the Initial Summit Report, which have been replaced by other ideas that were never discussed.


3 Responses to “2020: obfuscating the REAL agenda”

  1. danny said

    I can tell you this ( after making a local mirror of the submissions directory, and searching within files for certain strings):
    15% of submissions mention China, and the most common “idea” is –

    (sic) WTF is wrong with us that researchers at australian universities have to go offshore to get their inventions up, specific example oft-noted being

    Zheng-Rong Shi, – ranked 350 among “The World’s Richest People In 2006”, founder of Suntech Power, completed his PhD degree at the University of New South Wales under Prof. Martin A. Green – a well-known world leader in PV….

    … who also departed our girtbysea after getting fed up with being dicked around.

    So instead of forming capital to build top-notch long term strategic export industries, instead we export the real brains behind it , Shelbeyville gets all the returns, and we get left with the remainder bin.

    And get this for massive missing-the-pointedness… how many times in the 2020 initial report does the word export or exports get mentioned? Once, vaguely.

    Balance of payments aren’t ever gonna matter are they? We can just put it on the nation’s GE plastic.

  2. Dave Bath said

    danny: Spot on.
    I had to sample the hard way. I couldn’t use Google to find any documents when I searched for phrases and keywords I knew were in particular submissions.

    You’d think that we’d be able to use Google as the search box on the site is darned useless. Why can’t I get to submissions using Google? It takes either complete stupidity or determined effort to keep Google out of documents that are publically available (and I’ve even seen Centrelink internal “whiteboards” come out of Google’s caches!)

    It’s worse than I feared, as outlined in my post 2020 or 1020?.

  3. danny said

    >> “Why can’t I get to submissions using Google?”
    Because it’s a ColdFusion site, cfm, not htm, files ?

    (Why some sites are cfm, some not, is a puzzlement, hand of history i suppose… or could it be that your “why can’t i…” is informative… ie some gov depts don’t want to be visible to google? Never let the chance for a conspiracy theory go by, I say)

    Just between us, here’s a neat tool you’re gonna love…sshh…

    WinHTTrack, for mirroring websites, inc cfm, php, etc ones. Basically it parses pages, you can tell it to go x leve;ls deep, y levels wide, traverse up/down, stay in domain/not, ignore robots rules… You end up replicating the target domain structure. i suspect you could mirror the whole internet if you wanted to,

    For getting the submissions, use as a start page, and set php, cfm etc > text-html in the mime type tab.
    I still haven’t figured out minutiae of syntax, … if you are so inclined you can run it as command line.
    Play with it , but don’t tell it to go 5 links deep and 5 links wide straight up, with 510 concurrent connections…..or watch your hard drive fill.
    its kinda like open cut data mining.

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