Australia 2020 Summit


The purpose of this paper is to provide information about the Rudd Government’s recently announced Australia 2020 Summit.  This paper also provides some background information about similar initiatives in Australia and internationally that may give you some indication about what the Prime Minister is thinking.

The website for the Australia 2020 Summit can be found at:

Purpose of the Summit

The Prime Minister will set in place a long term strategy for Australia’s future.  The Summit will bring together 1000 leading Australians to develop policy options that can be discussed and debated, and brought together as a cohesive strategy.  Policy options will be developed under 10 critical areas:

  • future directions for the Australian economy;
  • economic infrastructure;
  • population, sustainability, climate change and water;
  • future directions for rural industries and rural communities;
  • national health strategy;
  • strengthening communities;
  • future of indigenous Australia;
  • towards a creative Australia;
  • the future of Australian governance; and
  • Australia’s future security and prosperity in a changing region and world.

Further information about each of these policy areas can be found at

Summit Date

The Australia 2020 Summit will be held at Parliament House on 19 and 20 April.

Key Points to Note

  • The summit offers a unique opportunity to set a strategy for the country that is long term and outside the usual three year electoral cycle.
  • The Government recognises that many of Australia’s best and brightest are outside of government and its institutions, and they do not often have a vehicle through which to contribute to national policy settings.
  • Participants are to be recognised for their unique expertise in a particular policy area.  Summit participants will be invited in their own right – not as members of an organisation.  The PM made this clear in his media conference of 3 February when he said “…we expect everyone to be there in their own individual right…we want people to be selected on the basis of individual merit, achievement, and the rest, and if they’ve got ideas to offer”.
  • There are no pre-determined right or wrong answers to some of the challenges posed by the Prime Minister.
  • The Government wants open debate.
  • The Government wants action and the Prime Minister has said he has “no interest in a talkfest”.
  • All Australians are invited to make submissions.
  • The Prime Minister does not want the Summit to be a party-political exercise and has therefore invited the Federal Opposition Leader and the State and Territory Opposition Leaders to participate.


  • Participants will be selected by a 10 member non-government Steering Committee co-chaired by the PM and Professor Glyn Davis, Vice Chancellor of the University of Melbourne.
  • Around 100 Summit members will be chosen in each of the 10 policy areas listed earlier.
  • Participants will be drawn from business, academia, community and industrial organisations, the media, and there will be a number of eminent Australians.
  • Each of the 10 Summit policy areas will be chaired by a Government Minister and a member of the Steering Committee.  They will produce options papers.
  • The Government will produce a public response to the options papers by the end of 2008, with a view to shaping the nation’s long-term direction from 2009 and beyond.
  • Submissions on the 10 policy areas listed above are to be provided to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, which will act as Secretariat for the Summit.  The Department will establish an Australia 2020 website for this purpose and we will keep you updated.

State Governments have embarked on similar processes to develop long term strategies, as have countries in Europe and Asia.  Please read below if you would like further information on similar initiatives, to guide your thinking about the Summit.

State Governments

State Governments have in recent years developed their own overarching development strategies and vision statements. Like the Prime Minister’s Australia 2020 Summit, these State plans have sought to establish long term goals with measurable benchmarks to guide policy and budgetary decisions within key priority areas. At a State level, this process has invariably involved community and expert consultations, as well as measures to ensure ongoing public involvement and input.

NSW State Plan

In November 2006 the Iemma Government launched its State Plan to guide the delivery of government services in NSW over the following ten years. The Plan outlined 14 long term social, economic and environmental goals under five broad areas.  It also identified 34 policy priorities with measurable targets for achieving these goals.

The State Plan was developed over three months.  A draft plan was prepared by the NSW Public Service and coordinated across all government departments. It included proposals to reform government processes to integrate the Plan with Budget and Cabinet processes.  Community input was then sought in a number of public and stakeholder meetings which included community leaders, experts, and the general public.

Two independent experts were appointed as advisors to the Cabinet committee responsible for implementing the Plan – Dr John Stuckey, former managing partner of McKinsey’s management consultants, and Professor Brian McCaughan, President of the NSW Medical Board.

Queensland Smart State Strategy 2005-2015

In April 2005 the Beattie Government released its Smart State Strategy to drive the state’s economic growth and prosperity through the development of a sustainable knowledge-based economy. The strategy focuses on government investment in new technologies and industries, research, education and training and infrastructure and is regularly refined to address emerging issues.

A public consultation process and receipt of submissions contributed to the development of the initial strategy. An online consultation process was also held in December 2007 seeking feedback on the progress made to date and input on the strategy’s next stage.

The strategy includes the appointment of Smart State Ambassadors in a range of fields who contribute to “Queensland’s development as a global centre for research, innovation, commerce and creativity”. Under the Strategy, the Smart State Council has been established as an external advisory body to investigate impediments and opportunities affecting the strategy’s goals. The Council membership includes representatives from Queensland’s business, academic and research communities, the Queensland Chief Scientist, the Premier as Chair and four Government Ministers.

Growing Victoria Together

In 2001, the Bracks Government released Growing Victoria Together, a vision statement which set goals for the state’s future and plans for making Victoria “stronger, more caring and innovative”. This document came out of the Growing Victoria Together Summit of key opinion leaders convened by the Premier in 2000.

In 2005 the Government released a refreshed edition of the document, which included the results of public consultations. It outlined ten goals aiming to balance social, economic and environmental considerations and forms the basis of budget and policy decisions.

South Australia’s Strategic Plan

The Rann Government launched South Australia’s Strategic Plan in March 2004.  An updated version was released in January 2007 with a renewed focus on health, the environment, education and the State’s economic competitiveness.

A community engagement program was undertaken during 2006 led by an “Update Team” appointed by the Premier. Planning days and regional forums were conducted in regional centres.  From this, a Community Engagement report was developed, with a number of recommendations for specific changes to the plan’s original targets, some of which were reflected in the updated plan.

The Executive Committee of Cabinet oversees the implementation of the plan throughout the Government and into the community.

Tasmania Together 2020

Tasmania Together is a broad 20 year vision statement which includes 12 goals and 143 benchmarks based on community consultation processes undertaken in 2000 and 2005.  It is used to guide decision-making in the government, business and community sectors.

The Tasmania Together Progress Board is established as an independent statutory authority with responsibility for monitoring progress and reporting results to Parliament.  As a system of community goal setting and measurement of progress, it is enshrined in law in the Tasmania Together Progress Board Act 2001.

The European Union (EU)

Enlargement is one of the EU’s most powerful policy tools.  It is a carefully managed process that helps the transformation of the countries involved, for example, it is designed to ensure their laws are in line with other member countries.

As part of the process, many countries prepare national development plans and these cover very similar issues to those that the Prime Minister is looking at for Australia.

Countries currently seeking to become part of the EU (Croatia, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia) are all at different stages in developing their plan.  These plans are integral, and are especially important in terms of receiving EU structural adjustment funds.

The best example is Ireland’s National Development Plan, which is long-standing and the closest to the type of strategy or model that our Prime Minister has announced.

Ireland – National Development Plan (NDP) 2007-2013

The initial NDP was prepared after extensive consultation with people across Ireland in a process similar to that announced by the PM, and the plan has since gone through several iterations.

The current plan is a €184 billion national plan that builds on the NDP of 2000-2006.  Entitled Transforming Ireland – A Better Quality of Life for All, the objective of this new seven year plan is to build a prosperous Ireland for all its people, characterised by sustainable economic growth, greater social inclusion and balanced regional development.   Numerous projects and initiatives throughout the country are funded.  They are in the areas of education, roads, public transport, health services, social housing, rural development, industry, water and waste services, childcare and local development.