Within hours of the announcement of the proposed Summit 2020 in Canberra in April, Australian bloggers were all over it like a fire blanket and mostly, I'm sorry to say, trashing the whole idea for dear life. There was a flurry of jerking knees, a cacophony of sneering, and a disproportionate amount of envy-fuelled dick-waving involved, and the subtext 'Why don't they invite MEEEEE' was barely sub.
But some of us think it's quite a good idea. Some of us are also sceptical about the 'not just a talkfest' protestations; of course it's a talkfest, and there is nothing wrong with talkfests. They can be really useful and helpful. I've been in several in the field of the arts, and good, workable suggestions and solutions have always emerged, if not always from expected sources or in expected directions, but that is all to the good as well.
However, something has just arrived by email that makes me wonder how well this gig is really being organised.
Given how often I do something I didn't intend when using this computer, it's not all that surprising that some time last year I somehow ended up on Malcolm Turnbull's email newsletter mailing list. But I regard Turnbull as the least worst of his lot by a very long way -- not least because he is interesting and smart, which few of his coalition colleagues are (Nick Minchin is certainly interesting, but so are funnel-web spiders) -- and the newsletter usually has at least one useful or arresting piece of information in it so I haven't cancelled it.
The latest one, the first for 2008, has just arrived, and here is one of the items it contains:
Just this week I wrote to the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd urging him to reconsider the date for the proposed Summit 2020 of 1000 Australians described by him as the "best and brightest" to a date which does not conflict with the Jewish Festival of Passover. It is, frankly, incredible that a Summit of this kind would be set on a weekend which is likely to preclude the attendance of most Jewish Australians.
Isn't there somebody whose job it is to check this kind of stuff?
And now that I think about it, here's another question: given how soon the summit is scheduled for-- just over two months away -- won't an awful lot even of the non-Jewish 'best and brightest' also have been booked up months ago into commitments that will preclude their dropping everything and zooming off to Canberra for the weekend? Is the relevant public servant drawing up a 'Best and Brightest B-list' even as we speak?