Professor Glyn Davis — 2020 Summit chair and University of Melbourne Vice Chancellor in his spare time — today announced the completion of the selection process for the summit.

The announcement was made around 11am on Melbourne Uni’s South Lawn, which was deserted apart from the small cluster of television cameras and journalists jostling for space and questions around the Vice Chancellor.

Davis was running late. An SBS journo watched the clock: “if this is the way he’s going to run the 2020 Summit …”

Once there, like any high school musical director worth his salt, Davis stressed the difficulty of choosing only 1000 participants from over 8000 applicants, saying that the selection process highlighted the immense depth and variety within the Australian population. If only we could cast you all!

James Packer apparently had the talent to get on stage. So too AFL footballer James Hird and actor Hugh Jackman (and 997 others).

Determined not to get into hot water over gender balance again — after controversy erupted when it was revealed that the steering committee only had one woman, Cate Blanchett (it now has two, with Dr Jackie Huggins replacing Dr Kelvin Kong) — Davis stressed a very strong focus on demographics, and said that participants were selected based on the demography of Australia. “[The summit participants are] 51% female because the Australian population is 51% female.”

Concerns were raised as to whether this might undermine the quality of the selection, with certain people with relevant and valuable ideas being left out because they did not fit the demographic restrictions.

“The problem with selections is not who you choose, it’s who you leave out,” Davis said. “I do not think that the demographics will get in the way of the ideas and I think it would have been a strange summit if it hadn’t been balanced.”