A column about the 2020 summit

It’s late on Friday afternoon, and my phone is still mysteriously silent. I never thought it’d come to this, but I’m beginning to suspect it’s really true. Apparently Kevin Rudd really is intending to hold his 2020 Summit without any input from me. Which means that, at least in the view of those advising our tireless new Prime Minister, I don’t count as one of the 1000 top minds in the country.

Of course, I don’t need to tell any long-term readers of this column how ridiculous that proposition is. Especially when the list of those who made the cut includes Miranda Devine, for goodness’ sake. Fortunately, I’m not petty enough to hold this outrageous snub against the organisers. (Although next time Kevin Rudd calls asking my advice on how to solve a diplomatic imbroglio involving the Japanese Government, I may make him stew a little before obliging.) No, that’s fine – I’ll quietly tell the operators of the Glebe company LearJet that I won’t be requiring transport to Canberra this weekend – instead, they can take me to Cancun, as usual. And I will instead choose circulate my ideas for 2020 via the pages of this newspaper. Which means that there’s far more a chance they’ll survive into the next decade than if they were printed up in the proceedings of some crummy summit that everyone will have forgotten within days of its conclusion.

In fact, I’ve long had reason to suspect that Rudd’s policy mavens have been shamelessly harvesting the gems I contribute to this newspaper. That whole apology idea? Mine – but who’s counting. And while my innovative concepts are distributed for free to anyone lucky enough to live in The Glebe’s catchment area, that doesn’t make them any less priceless.

So, without any further ado, here are four ideas for Australia in the year 2020. And Kevin, there’s a lot more where they came from if you invite me next time.

1) A viable second political party. A few decades ago, the conservative side of politics was in disarray, so Robert Menzies pulled them all together and founded the Liberal Party. As scholars of Australian political history will know, it worked all too well. But now, the party is saddled with a fate worse than extinction – being led by Brendan Nelson. When the most senior Liberal leader left in the country is the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, it’s time to put your out of its misery. The ALP has remade itself into the mainstream conservative party, so it’s time we had an alternative party from the left – one that’s a bit less impractical and hippie-resistant than the Greens. I might found it myself and become Prime Minister, if I am prepared to give up my present columnist position for one involving somewhat less national influence.

2) The eradication of reality TV. It’s perhaps the most heinous threat confronting our nation. And anyone knows that to rid yourself of a pest, containment is necessary. That massive rabbit-proof fence wasn’t just built so Phillip Noyce could win awards, you know. Currently, they’re blooming across our television networks like blue-green algae, so the first step must be to contain them to their own specific network, so they can’t crop up where they’re not wanted – which is to say, everywhere. Next, the CSIRO must develop some form of myxomatosis-like disease that will eradicate all those involved in producing reality TV shows. There will be many casualties, and they will include Kyle Sandilands, which fact alone is reason enough to do it.

3) Call centres in prison. We must arrest our slow slide into a world where all services are delivered by ineffective computer voice recognition systems, or worse still, offshore call centres. Instead, we should route all support calls into our prisons, where convicts would be made responsible for resolving customer difficulties. This would enable them to put something back into the community by helping others instead of spending all their time working out and designing shivs. Personally, I’d rather talk to a convicted killer than your average hopeless customer support dweeb – at least they know how to get something done. Furthermore, if our prisoners can deal with, say, angry rural Telstra customers without becoming violently enraged themselves, they will have more than proven that they are ready to rejoin society.

4) The Glebe to go daily, and national. I’m just putting it out there. Global distribution along the lines of the Herald-Tribune might be an idea as well. Not just for my ego, you understand. There is a genuine need for people everywhere to read this column.

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