Daily Archives: Monday, 21 April, 2008

The Four Yorkshiremen (luxury!!)

For your delectation, a very early (perhaps the original?) version of The Four Yorkshiremen, with Tim Brooke-Taylor, Graham Chapman, John Cleese and Marty Feldman. Priceless! (Though I think John Cleese’s Yorkshire accent wobbles a bit…)

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“Summiteers treated to mix of showbiz and serious performance”: Eureka St

I usually find that Eureka St, the magazine of Jesuit Communications Australia, gets to the nub of things pretty well. Here is a slightly digested form of its summarising of the 2020 Summit. Read the whole thing here.

The 2020 Summit, like the Olympic Games, has turned out to be a mixture of showbiz and serious performances by elite participants. The Prime Minister was very aware of the former and some of the displays, including the opening session, were very well done indeed. All half dozen performers at the opening, including Matilda House, Sania Nakata, Michael Jeffery, Michael Wesley and the co-chairs Kevin Rudd and Glyn Davis, did well. But later plenary sessions sometimes became self-indulgent and wasteful of the limited time available if intellectual work was the only aim.

It was effectively a one-day summit. This makes the successes remarkable and any failures more explicable. Trying to judge its success is difficult because any evaluation has to take into account its different levels and its different sections. Not only are there different indicators of success but some of the ten sub-sections probably turned out better than others…

…many participants as well as many observers still struggled with understanding the difference between ideas, policies, visions, aspirations and general directions. The outcomes were a mixture of all of these. This has meant that the strictly hard-headed were probably disappointed just as others were delighted by vision statements. This complicates the first indicator of success, the generation of new ideas. But there were many of them.

Judged against the second indicator of success, energy and momentum, the summit was clearly successful. This exercise in large-scale participation was grasped enthusiastically and much of it was transmitted to the viewing public. For every discontented participant there were probably ten who left with fresh ideas, recharged batteries, better government connections and a wider network of like-minded activists…

The final indicator is what it means for the government and for party politics. In the short term the summit will be good for the government. All the talk of non-partisanship and the reforming centre has effectively taken the wind even further out of the Opposition’s sails. By surrounding Rudd and his ministers with the best and the brightest in such a large community event it has engendered substantial further good will. Many of the government’s general inclinations and directions have been given a stamp of approval and few, if any, have been stymied.

The longer-term is harder to predict. The government has promised a full response by the end of the year. This will be harder to manage, especially as understandably many of the participants have a sense of urgency about their ideas, like foreign aid and climate change…

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