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The Forum > Article Comments > Your Ruddiness, the problem with your summit ... > Comments

Your Ruddiness, the problem with your summit ... : Comments

By Julian Cribb, published 12/3/2008

2020 summit: if you want the best idea for the future of Australia, just take our best ideas to the world.

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Just so that you do not feel that you are whistling in a forest, I would like you to know that I believe you to be spot on Julian.
However Rudd's 2020 gathering is all for show, how can it be taken seriously with Tangle Tongue Tim Fisher as a team leader. Fisher was a member of a government that either ignored or helped foster many of the problems you highlight. Tall Tales Tim Costello, another hand picked leader, does not understand the causes of poverty and Elizabeth 1 is a great promoter of greenhouse emission.
My suggestion would be to put together your own 20/20 conference and turn it into a permanent think tank. I will pay to come along and spray ideas.
Bruce Haigh
Posted by Bruce Haigh, Wednesday, 12 March 2008 12:07:39 PM
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Julian, I guess you know about the Review of Innovation Systems that's in the middle of its' national caravan around the capitals. I made it to one of the 'Academia' sections.
It strikes me there are three devils preventing us from getting the best out of our talents. One is the entrenched system of research silos. A speaker got up on behalf of an agency that represented the eight metropolitan universities and the city council. EIGHT tertiary institutions in a State of 5 million? - nuts! The perpetuation of jealousy and nitpicking competitiveness is a soul-destroying disgrace.
The second problem is the matter of governance and ethics. Witness the article in The Age March 12th, how makers of medical prostheses are embedded in major teaching hospitals through a system of financial co-dependency with key opinion makers. That's precisely what instills feelings of profound contempt for the high and mighty. There will be lots more corruption to follow if our government pursues the line of tax breaks and patent ownership brought into the US by their Bayh-Dole Act.
The third canker eating the heart out of our capacity to nurture innovations is the inequity being built into our education system. For all we know, the next person capable of producing a break-through, earth-saving idea is wagging school right now, because of the degraded resourcing forced upon our public schools by governments.
So, Julian, I suggest the way forward is to rectify the first and third areas (public schooling and governance) and leave the prestigious institutions to settle their own scores. If they can get corporate sponsorship to knock out a few glitzy products from a shrinking genetic pool of the privileged, let them. On the other hand, the national government should reward those research facilities that go out of their way to foster interest in students of government schools all the way down to Grade One, and that strive to integrate with all the human endeavours (except sport).
If we go down the road of 'hot-housing' the easy pickings from the elite postcodes, we are stuffed.
Posted by gavrilo, Wednesday, 12 March 2008 1:49:33 PM
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it's this simple: before you can cut down a tree, you've got to have a tool. before you can distribute rice, you've got to have a bowl.

the people of oz have no tools, have no bowls. they're all in the possession of politicians. ozzies talk endlessly about what needs to be done. but they never talk about how to do it. that's because they are powerless. the limit of their ability is to say: "the gummint should..".

politicians can't do much. they are limited by the need to be elected, and re-elected. fast response to changing circumstances is quite impossible, even if they wanted to initiate change. often they are captive of special interests that resist change.

so oz is not going to lead in dealing with climate change and resource exhaustion. the structure of oz society does not allow it, the character of oz people can not support the changes that are needed.

go ahead with your wish-lists, go ahead with your 'gummint ottas', but you're kidding youselves.
Posted by DEMOS, Wednesday, 12 March 2008 2:58:18 PM
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"This isn’t a joke. For the last eight years the world has eaten more food that it has produced, and the gap is widening as demand rises and production stagnates."

Mayeb I'm just crazy, but last time I checked this wasn't physically possible. And besides, its the complete opposite of the truth. The US actually puts a lot of African farmers out of business flooding their markets with leftovers food, driving down their prices. The result is massive amounts of local produce goes rotten as they wait, hopelessly, for supply to dry and prices to increase. That's just one example.,,2086467,00.html

More at issue in terms of food is what we do produce but waste. "Australians are throwing away more than 3 million tonnes of food a year, mostly because of overshopping and waste at the table, a study of our eating habits has found."

If these "very smart scientists" like yourself are smart enough to make a living suggesting how the government can spend other peoples money on your personal pet project wish-list, surely you're smart enough to raise the capital and do it yourself, right?
Posted by concord, Wednesday, 12 March 2008 11:05:12 PM
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I agree wholeheartedly with Julian's comments about Australia possesing the knowledge to provide solutions to the situations he describes in his article.

Food security - meaning the ability to keep producing the quantities necessary to nourish even our own population is one of the key challenges we face.

There are assumptions that because Australia has been a net-exporter of (food) commodities for decades, this will continue unabated. However, with declining soil quality and fertility due to the 'mining' of the nutrients without natural replenishment, the capacity of our most vital naturally occurring resource - the soil - is being dangereously compromised.

However.... there is very good news. New and fertile top-soils can be created in five short years when the focus is on providing the necessary environmental conditions for soil biology to establish and flourish. This requires correct chemistry (absence of agricultural chemicals and biocides) NO disturbance and a variety of perennial plants providing living root mass for the underground critters to colonise and proliferate.

The majority of Australia's arable landscape is still subjected to annual mono-culture crops which create unliveable conditions for soil biota to work their magic.

Policies within every department of agriculture are stil wedded (welded?) to the old and powerful belief system that the highest yields (of grains) are grown in a mono-culture, weed-eradicated/terminated/eliminated environment.

Until this belief system, which underpins the behaviours is altered to embrace perenniality and symbiosis, co-exitence and diversity, Australia's own food security is being compromised.

The Australia 20/20 Summit could be the ideal forum to challenge the existing underlying assumptions around the production of food. We don't need re-structuring..... we need entirely new thinking to re-design regenerative systems.
Posted by bush goddess, Thursday, 13 March 2008 9:38:20 AM
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Full marks for exposing one of the main spectres that haunts Aust future:
"a run of monsoon failures ... would unleash about 200-300 million refugees
across the world, some tens of millions of whom would fetch up here."

But zero marks for making it sound like a solely or largely ( Western) induced climate happening.

In so presenting it, you transform it from a from a team-world to a team-West issue,
and give the rest-of-the world an excuse to sit on their hands–-as they did at the recent Bali-fest.

Irish potato famines have been a feature of human history since day

Countries like Bangladesh are such disasters waiting to happen.
Their populations are well beyond what their resources/resourcefulness
allow them to service. Even in good times they need a constant intravenous
drip-feed of money & technology .Any amount of 'agricultural aid' will
not guarantee such countries a trouble free future .A recent article in the
New Statesman applauded the news that Bangladesh had reduced pop growth from
7-children/family to 3/f . Piffle! Such countries need pop trends to be
in negative figures.

Combine the blame-the-west meme with the weak kneed approach to immigration
controls which many elected to represent Australian interests proffer and
you have all the push-pull forces needed to make a mega-disaster.

Yes, the 20/20 conference would do well to consider issues such as
sustainable energy, recycling & conservation. But, it also needs to send a
loud message to the world that:
* Aust doesn't owe the rest of the world anything.
* Aust will not seek to buy or sustain friends through 'aid'.
* Aust pollies will no longer trade the national good for short
personal advantage.

The conference might also learn from some of our neighbours – a good place
to start would be from Malaysia's no-nonsense border & immigration controls!
Posted by Horus, Saturday, 15 March 2008 4:56:06 AM
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