Saturday, April 19, 2008

Delegates outline ideas as 2020 closes

The 2020 summit in Canberra has drawn to a close, with dozens of ideas ranging from an Australian republic to a human rights charter presented to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Most of the groups listed several broad-ranging ideas; covering constitutional changes, Australia's place in the world and new ideas for health, education, and economic policy.

The government has committed to respond to all of the proposals by the end of the year.

Kevin Rudd told the 1,000 delegates their contributions will be taken very seriously.

"I don't want to have to explain to my kids and perhaps their kids too that we failed to act, that we avoided the tough decisions, that we failed to prepare Australia for its future challenges - be they in security, the economy, across the fracturing of our society the need to rebuild it, our place in the world and the overarching challenge of climate change," Mr Rudd said.

Among the ideas suggested were a national curriculum, an opt-out system for organ donation and a rating system to help people choose healthier food options.

But the idea that received the loudest and longest applause was from the co-chair of the governance session, John Hartigan, for Australia to begin the move towards becoming a republic.

"This is proposed in two stages - firstly a plebiscite to decide whether to sever ties, and secondly a referendum to decide on the model," Mr Hartigan said.

The other co-chair of the governance group, Parliamentary Secretary Maxine McKew, outlined her vision for politicians in 2020 to be sworn in by an Australian head of state.

"After the ceremony you will take tea with Quentin Bryce, who by 2020 will also be revelling in her new title of Australian senior of the year, a great testament to a fully engaged life and an outstanding health system brought to you by the 2020 summit," Ms McKew said.


Taxes on junk food, alcohol and cigarettes and a ban on junk food advertising during children's television programs were among the big ideas emerging from the health forum.

There was also a push for a limit on unhealthy ingredients in processed foods and introducing more fruit in schools.

The co-chair of the group, Health Minister Nicola Roxon, says there were many other ideas that did not make the final list, but were still worth a mention.

"The final one of the out of the box ideas is that by 2020 we would like all sedentary jobs to be redesigned so that at least half-an-hour of physical activity was part of daily work," Ms Roxon said.

"We think this is something the community could go and champion, not just something governments would proceed with."

There was also a push for a greater investment in preventative health.

It was not all smooth sailing however, earlier today Victorian rural communities delegate James Houston interrupted a panel discussion, reportedly unhappy that his ideas were not heard during the communities stream.


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