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ACM Home arrow 2020 Summit arrow Egg on their faces - again : Summit organizers

Egg on their faces - again : Summit organizers Print E-mail
Written by Thomas Flynn   
Monday, 14 April 2008

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With judges resigning, the governance panel seriously gerrymandered, someone not checking that Passover falls at the same time, two delegates imagining a constitutional rule that does not exist, you would have to wonder what else could go wrong with the 2020 Summit on 19 and 20 April, 2008.


Is seems the organizers do not have a good understanding of the history of our nation, as ACM’s Executive Director, Thomas Flynn, explains:
 

ACM's Stakhanovite national convenor has long been coaxing me to make a contribution to the ACM site.

I was finally stung into action today by something on an official government website. Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's Australia 2020 Summit will, amongst other things, consider "the future of Australian governance".

There is discussion of each topic on the official site of the summit.

The page about governance includes the following startling statement: "And given no referendum has been passed for 40 years, what are the chances that Australia can modernise its creaky constitutional framework?

Or was our rejection of the Republic at the end of the last century just healthy cynicism about the model we were asked to buy?"

Leave aside the rampant chronological snobbery for a moment. Ignore the tedious assumption that everything new is best and everything old is bad.

Constitutions are not computers or packets of biscuits. They do not have sell by dates. They are not being overtaken daily by more powerful and shinier models.

Just consider this fact.

The people charged with preparing for the 2020 summit apparently believe that no referendum has passed for forty years.

I am 30 years old. Some time ago I formed the impression that the last time a referendum passed was in the year of my birth.

So I either I am in fact 40 or there is no requirement that Senate vacancies be filled by members of the same party, Territorians cannot vote in referendums and there is no compulsory retirement age for federal judges.

I suppose it could be a mere typing error. To be honest ACM's own newsletters are not immune to that problem, but we do not have the resources of government and this mistake was not in a press release put out in a hurry.

I suspect it was ignorance or carelessness on the part of the person drafting that statement.

If you are going to sneer about a "creaky constitutional framework" you should make sure you do not appear profoundly ignorant of the very subject about which you are presuming to lecture others.

In the Melbourne Age on 23rd March 1977, Robert Menzies was quoted calling the proposal that federal judges have a compulsory retirement "superficial and ill considered".

I wonder what he would have made of this summit.

    

 

 
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