Monday, 21 April 2008

2020 WAS Vatican II.....

Oh dear, it seems my correspondent was apparently not the only one who saw the parallels. The Sydney Morning Herald's Annabel Crabbe reached the same conclusion, and took the analogy a lot further, with St Kev to the Summit as God was to Vatican II (hmmm, I'll suppress the obvious temptations on where to go with this one).

Amongst her cutest lines, though, is this:

"Like Vatican II, the 2020 Summit demonstrated to us that our language is changeable; the favoured little sayings of John Howard now seem far away and hopelessly antiquated, as out of favour as Latin Mass...."

Now I have to admit, on the Howardisms to which she refers (she notes that "We have officially said goodbye to "mateship", "the things that unite us are bigger than the things that divide us", the "barbecue stopper" and "the pub test"."), I would have to confess to being a novus ordo devotee.

Still, I liked the line!

Actually, though, I may be in the process of changing my mind on the value of 2020. Some of the post Summit appraisals suggest that it did have a few substantive purposes. And after all, the Pope has just spent a week exhorting Catholics to take the debate in the public square seriously. So is there any good we can see coming out of 2020? Let me make some suggestions.

First, re-establishing the principle that ideas - and not just what will go down well with the voters - matter.

Secondly, supporting merit (of all very electic kinds! I really could have done with a lot fewer pictures of Cate Blanchett, baby Ignatius and Hugh Jackman).

Thirdly, building support for the big structural changes that Australia really does need to make (although lawyer Julian Disney's 'big idea' to penalize politicians who lie might pose something of a problem in this regard if implemented, given that we've just had an election campaign which promised absolutely no big changes).

Finally, trying to teach and corrall a lot of people - who would otherwise pester bureaucrats and politicians for the next three years - the difference between ideas, aspirations and concrete policy proposals.

In any case, I expect we will see a lot of 'Spirit of 2020ism' around in the near future. But perhaps this time Catholics might actually have a tactical advantage, knowing what to expect and how these things play out...get ready!

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