Dear Mr Rudd: A Forum

Chaired by Robert Manne
14 April, 2008

Why you should listen

Robert Manne

On the eve of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s 2008 talkfest – Australia 2020 – a panel of five of Australia’s leading thinkers comes together to give their ideas about what this country’s future should be. In this engaging forum, chaired by ABC-TV broadcaster Peter Thompson, the contributors to Robert Mann’s Dear Mr Rudd: Ideas for a better Australia (Black Inc), cover a myriad of topics from governance and the Republic to the pressing issue of housing. According to Mann, the editor of Dear Mr Rudd was a reaction to the previous Government. “Dear Mr Rudd hopes to help resume the conversation between public intellectuals and Government which broke down so badly during the Howard years,” says Manne. This Sydney Ideas panel, which includes three participants in the Australian 2020 summit, gave the Sydney Ideas audience a rare insight into key policy issues. The Rudd Government has already adopted many of the “wish-list” initiatives by Dear Mr Rudd contributor and panellist Julian Disney, Chair of the National Affordable Housing Summit. These included the provision of a subsidy to large financial institutions to invest in low-rent residential housing and a re-invigoration of public housing. “Implementing them will be a long, tough task,” says Disney. “So the Government will really need to focus on it.” Panellists included: Robert Manne, Professor of Politics at La Trobe University and author of many articles and books including Do Not Disturb: Is the Media Failing Australia (2005) and Whitewash: On Keith Windschuttle’s Fabrication of Aboriginal History (ed) (2003); Geoff Gallop, Professor and Director of the Graduate School of Government at the University of Sydney and former Premier of Western Australia; Mark McKenna, Associate Professor and senior research fellow in Australian history at the University of Sydney and author of the award-winning Looking for Blackfella’s Point: An Australian History of Place; Julian Disney, part-time Professor and Director of the Social Justice Project at the University of New South Wales, Visiting Professor at the University of Technology and Chair of the National Affordable Housing Summit and National Chair of Anti-Poverty Week and Martin Krygier, Professor and Director of the European Law Centre at the University of NSW and editor and co-editor of a number of books including Civil Passions(2005).

“If Rudd takes just one of these observations to heart, this book will have been worthwhile”The Sydney Morning Herald on Dear Mr Rudd