February 5

The 2020 Summit: Republicans will rise again?




…the 2020 summit and its co-chairman…

The 2020 summit on 19-20 April 2008 announced by the Prime Minister on 4 February is to advise government on a range of issues and to set the policy agenda for the next decade. 

One thousand of the “best and brightest” will  be picked by some process as yet unknown, and will be divided into ten groups , one of which will be “ the structure of government.”

The Prime Minister and Professor Glyn Davis will co-chair the conference. It seems Professor Davis will design the conference; indeed it is likely that the summit is his idea.

He is said to be close to the Prime Minister. He was Commissioner for Public Sector Equity in Queensland under the Goss government from 1990 to 1993, succeeding Mr Rudd as Director-General of the Office of the Cabinet in 1995.

In 1998 he was appointed Director-General of the Department of the Premier and Cabinet to Premier Peter Beattie.

Professor Davis  became Vice Chancellor and President of Griffith University in 2002, and  Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne in 2005.It has been suggested that he is a possible appointee as the next secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 

…Griffith University co-hosts a conference…but where are the papers?

Professor Davis is strongly committed to the Commonwealth of Australia becoming a republic, a fact which became apparent  when he was appointed in 1993 to the Republic Advisory Committee. This government committee was chaired by Malcolm Turnbull, then head of the Australian Republican Movement.

 Readers may recall that the then Prime Minster, Paul Keating, made it a strict condition  that all members, without exception, be  committed republicans.

In 2002, Griffith University, in conjunction with The Australian and the Australian Republican Movement, hosted a conference in Brisbane, the “Australian Constitutional Futures Conference.”

As the hosts said, the conference was to restart and broaden the debate about “the” republic and the constitutional framework “we” need for the 21st century.  Who the organisers meant by the word  “we,” apart from themselves, is not clear.

Although this conference was hosted by a university – a taxpayer funded  university, it should be noted  – no one who was not a committed republican was invited to speak.

Professor Davis gave a paper,  “Republicans will rise again.”  We shall return to that .

The conference papers are no longer accessible on the Griffith University site.  We are not surprised.

…disgraceful attack on the Sovereign…

One speaker ( certainly not Dr Davis) was allowed to launch into a  vile  attack on the Sovereign and the Royal Family.  He referred to the monarchy as “rancid” and “corrupt,” “a menace to democracy” with “ a cavalier disregard for liberal values.”

It was, he said,  a  ” corrupt institution … prepared to subvert the rule of law… and allow criminal activity to go unchecked within its walls.”

He said that the monarchy has “little interest in anything other than self-preservation and that it will ride roughshod over the rule of law, if necessary, to achieve that aim.”

 We find it extraordinary that such a disgraceful paper would be accepted.

Perhaps the univeristy  had no notice, but once he started on this course, so alien to a university, he should have been stopped frm continuing with this filth.

Having allowed this, it should have dawned on  the University and The Australian how remiss they were in not inviting a contribution from those whose views , after all, prevailed in 1999.

They could have invited a paper to be published with the others, excluding of course the highly offensive and completely unjustified attack on The Queen and the Royal Family. 

….republicans will rise again….

 In any event, the paper from Dr Davis, “Republicans will rise again,” was  essentially a  call for unity between republicans.

Since then there has not been any progress whatsoever on that front.

 The republican movement papers this over by effectively saying they want a republic, but they haven’t the foggiest idea what sort of republic they actually want.

The problem for the republicans is as soon as they say what they want, half of them walk out.

 …there must be no shameful gagging as in 1993 and 2002… 

So we hope that time will not be wasted at the summit on this tired subject in which, as Mr Turnbull famously wrote in his 1999 diary, “nobody’s interested.”

But if it is, we do hope that the Prime Minister and Professor Davis do the right thing.

The shameful gagging of any dissenting voice by Mr Keating and then at the 2002 Conference by the national newspaper and a public university should never be repeated.  

Not at least if anyone is to take the occasion seriously.   


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