CPD thinkers talk about dangerous ideas at the Sydney Opera House

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The first Festival of Dangerous Ideas in 2009 showed that Australian audiences are hungry for ideas that nip at the boundaries of polite conversation.

Festival of Dangerous Ideas | 2 -3 October, Sydney Opera House

This year four CPD thinkers join the festival to bring you dangerous ideas about art, climate change, children, economics, families, freedom, happiness, justice, peace, politics, religion and ideas that shaking up, debating & re-invigorating!

Come along and join us – 2 to 3 October, Sydney Opera House:

Panel: Waleed Aly, Annabel Crabb, Elizabeth Farrelly and Miriam Lyons

In a country where politics is a blood sport, and a strong current of anti-intellectualism runs through public life, it can be dangerous to have ideas in politics. Our politics runs on tribal allegiances, one team against another, with ideas seen as irrelevant distractions that get in the way of a good bit of parliamentary biffo.

The legacies of Whitlam and Keating illustrate how the fortunes of politicians who are driven by big ideas are mixed to say the least. Although we reflexively blame their inability to translate those ideas into policy, perhaps the difficulties are of a more fundamental, structural nature.

If good ideas make bad politics, how can we come to terms with the challenges of the 21st century?

Venue: Playhouse
Dates: Saturday 2 October 3:15pm

Marcus Westbury

It is easy to agree that public financial support for the arts should follow artistic excellence and support those who can bring this to broad audiences.

So why does so much financial support go to opera and its wealthy patrons? Why should the vast majority of public subsidy for the arts be spent on art forms like symphony and opera, where the audiences are small, white and wealthy?

Meanwhile, the plight of so many other art forms that Australian’s passionately love, respect and want to experience are ignored.

Venue: Playhouse
Dates: Sunday 3 October 11:00am (Please note daylight saving commence Sunday 3 October)

John Quiggin

In the wake of the global financial crisis, economist-provocateur John Quiggin takes a long hard look at what went wrong with economics.

He argues that we are still in thrall to the ‘Zombie Economics’ of market liberalism – ideas that have been proved wrong and dangerous, but are very hard to kill. These ‘undead’ ideas should have been buried for good after the global financial crisis. In most cases, the evidence against these ideas was substantial even before the crisis. Still they won’t die… an economic horror movie where the creature just keeps coming back.

Together these ideas form a package which has been given various names; ‘Thatcherism’ in the United Kingdom, ‘Reaganism’ in the United State, ‘Economic Rationalism’ in Australia, the ‘Washington Consensus’ in the developing world and ‘Neoliberalism’ in academic discussions.

Quiggin takes his axe to orthodoxies such as privatisation, ‘the trickle-down theory’ that sees growth that benefits the very wealthy as beneficial to everyone – and the idea that financial markets are efficient and rational.

In the 21st century, he argues that economics should bury the zombie ideas that led the world into crisis, producing a more realistic, humble and socially useful body of thought.

Venue: Studio
Dates: Sunday 3 October 10:45am (Please note daylight saving commence Sunday 3 October)

Fred Chaney (Chair), Lyn Carson, Rebecca Huntley, Simon Sheikh, Tim Soutphommasane

The great ideological battles of the 20th century provided clear choices for voters in western democracies between ‘left’ and ‘right’. Allegiance to one side of politics or the other was often a choice for life, carrying with it fervent commitment to a political program. With the collapse of the left/right divide, major parties have become indistinguishable, and voters have become more alienated from party politics than ever. Politics in Australia seems to have become a reality TV popularity contest, with a prime-minister recently ‘voted off the island’ and major parties tripping over each other in their scramble to avoid anything difficult or unpopular. For us, as voters, this situation is profoundly frustrating; with politicians playing popularity games while the planet burns.

Does our idea of democracy need to change radically to give people more scope to be involved? Join our World Café to discuss these and other questions with a group of panellists and your fellow World Café participants.

Venue: Studio
Dates: Sunday 3 October 5:00pm (Please note daylight saving commence Sunday 3 October)

Blog Comments

Why can’t our politicians have such interesting debates in Parliament? Our country would have been in better shape if our politicians debated genuine problems and interesting ideas instead of dishing dirt on each other. Both major parties have lost their passion and their audience in the process.

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