Τρίτη, 22 Απριλίου 2008

Australian Make-Over ή Λαϊκισμός στο έπακρον!

Critics called the summit a "very clever political manoeuvre" by Rudd [Reuters]

Calls to make Australia a republic and stepping up efforts to tackle climate change have topped a list of recommendations from a weekend summit aimed at shaping the country's future.
The Australia 2020 Summit brought together just over 1,000 delegates in a first-of-its-kind gathering backed by Kevin Rudd, the prime minister.

Speaking at the close of the meeting on Sunday, Rudd praised the event as a "very Australian" conference, although he said there was no guarantee that any of the ideas would be implemented.













The gathering has been criticised for trying to cover too much ground.
















Julie Bishop, the deputy opposition leader, told Australian television that her party would be closely watching to see if the summit yields anything practical or was just a showcase for Rudd's ego.

Symbolic exercise

Key recommendations

Governance:

Introduce Australian republic in a two-stage process; first ending ties with Britain while retaining the governor general for five years, then identifying a new model for the country

Increase civic participation by automatic voter registration and community parliaments

Environment:

Make Australia world's leading green and sustainable economy by 2020

Create carbon and water accounts so governments and businesses are more aware of their environmental impact

Aborigines:

Write treaty to outline status and rights of Aborigines and their relationship to federal government

Close life expectancy gap between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians

Run national public affairs campaign to combat racism and establish the cultural identity of indigenous people

Encourage private investment and philanthropy in indigenous communities

Janet Albrechtsen, an Australian newspaper columnist, told Al Jazeera that the summit was a symbolic exercise that did not tap adequately into the opinions of those living in Australia's suburbs.

"This is a fantastic and very clever political manoeuvre to ingratiate yourself as a new prime minister with the intellectuals and the media establishment of the country," she said.

Summit participants included Hollywood actors Cate Blanchett and Hugh Jackman, as well as scientists, artists, central bankers, industrialists and environmentalists.

The suggestion for a republic drew most cheers during the summit, although Rudd has called it a second-tier priority for his government.

A national referendum for Australia to become a republic in 1999 was rejected over disagreements on the style of presidency to employ.

The idea dropped off the national agenda until Rudd, a republican, was elected as prime minister last November, replacing John Howard, a staunch monarchist.

Opinion polls show most Australians respect Queen Elizabeth II but would prefer to have an Australian as head of state.

'Carbon bank'

Participants urging action on climate change proposed setting up a national "carbon bank" to monitor the nation's greenhouse gas emissions.

Rudd praised the ideas but did not promise
to implement them [Reuters]
Delegates also tackled the problem of the country's decade-long drought, the worst in Australian history.

The drought has cut production of many crops ranging from wheat to wine grapes, and is a major contributing factor in the growing problem of global food shortages.

The lack of rain in Australia, the world's driest continent, has increased concerns that irrigation is permanently depleting major rivers.

Some scientists argued that farmers should move from the south to the wetter, tropical north.

Some of the other ideas proposed during the summit included providing incentives to attract workers to rural Australia, d
elivering fresh fruit to primary schools weekly and reinvigorating knowledge of Asia through student exchange programmes and promoting foreign language study.


Source: Al Jazeera

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