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Australia 'ideas summit' maps new national path

Australians submitted 8,000 ideas. Experts picked 40.

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A free-spirited summit aimed at soliciting innovative ideas to strengthen Australia's future concluded Sunday with proposals ranging from a preventative health agency funded by a junk-food tax to making Australia the world's "greenest" economy by 2020.

Some 1,000 experts, activists, politicians, and celebrities put forward more than 40 proposals after two days of brainstorming.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has promised to respond by the end of the year, but there is no guarantee that any of the ideas will be implemented. Mr. Rudd praised the event as "a very Australian gathering."

"I think the reason it's worked ... is because it's been characterized by a whole lot of good humor, a whole lot of mutual respect, and a whole lot of very classical, undeniable Australian, directness," Rudd said.

Ideas included the establishment of an Aboriginal treaty that would detail their status and rights, establishing a national "carbon bank" to monitor the nation's greenhouse gas emissions, development of a bionic eye, a so-called "cure" for blindness, and boosting Australian-made content on television.

Other proposals included breaking ties to the British crown and establishing an Australian republic; creating a national preventative health agency funded by taxes on alcohol, cigarettes and junk food; providing incentives to lure Australians to work in rural communities; and delivering fresh fruit to schools once a week.

The first-of-its-kind summit has been touted by the ruling Labour government as a way to harvest the best ideas for the future from Australians across the nation and include regular citizens in the governing process.


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