If you thought for a fleeting moment that Kevin Rudd’s show piece Summit was going to be something more than an opportunity for rent seeking lobbyists and proselytisers to push their barrows and grind their axes, then think again. Louise Adler, one of the participants in the Summit, has confirmed your worst fears.
Ms Adler, the head of Melbourne University Press, is, according to a piece she wrote for yesterday’s Sunday Age, salivating at the prospect of being able to spend a weekend lobbying for her pet causes.
“I am going to Canberra to argue for more money for artists, for more support for the making of more Australian stories, a tax break for Australian book publishers, for the adoption of the French method of cultural protectionism, with a small levy on all movie tickets,” Adler unashamedly writes.
No doubt Adler will not be alone in using the Summit as a chance to advocate for taxpayers dollars to be lavished on their pet projects. One can imagine in her corner there will be business people spending the weekend in Canberra badgering whoever will listen about the need for tax breaks for R & D; in another academics will roll out their cure all for higher education and put their paws out for more money for applied research, and over in yet another corner Gerard Henderson and some leftist types scrapping about culture wars and how our kids are being brainwashed by teachers.
Adler has unwittingly revealed that this Summit is a lobbyist’s delight. For someone like Adler, spending a weekend in which she can bend the ear of scores of decision makers and other persons of influence is a dream comes true – as it would be for anyone lobbying for their favourite cause. And you can bet she won’t be on her own in spending her time at the Summit ensuring that the voice of her constituency, in this case book publishers and artists, has its voice heard.
And don’t expect the Summit to think too much about how to immediately and practically improve the lot of those millions of Australians whose daily lives are ones of marginalisation and dispossession. According to Adler this Summit should not be about ‘practical’ outcomes, because that “is the rhetoric of appeasement, an expedient sop to the cynics,” she writes.
Instead, says Adler, after she’s finished lobbying all and sundry for more government largess for the creative industries, she is hoping “for some deeply outlandish, visionary imaginings of how we become a creative country.” No doubt this will be achieved through heavy government subsidisation of publishers and a dollop of industry protection.
Kevin Rudd’s Summit will simply be a marketplace for meretricious ideas and mendicancy.
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