Leaders gather for Crawford Australian Leadership Forum at ANU

28 June 2015

The central challenge for democratic governments everywhere is to make good policy good politics.

Influential leaders in business, politics, public service and academia from Australia and around the world will come together for the second Crawford Australian Leadership Forum (CALF) at The Australian National University from Monday.

Under the theme global realities, domestic choices, speakers will focus on the major policy issues confronting Australia and the world.

ANU Chancellor Professor the Hon Gareth Evans AC QC said the forum was the ideal venue for distinguished leaders to discuss the issues and start building a consensus to resolve them.

"The central challenge for democratic governments everywhere is to make good policy good politics," Professor Evans said.

"Australia is not alone in facing ever more intense geopolitical, economic and social policy challenges, but finding ever more difficulty in building the political and community consensus necessary to confront them effectively."

Keynote speaker Martin Wolf, Chief Economics Commentator at the Financial Times, said he was attending the Crawford Forum to discuss the prospects for the world economy at a critical time.

"There are big questions about the sort of recovery we are going to get in the developing world, and we're very much concerned about the Euro zone and its future," Mr Wolf said.

"But I think an even bigger question is what's going on in emerging countries. In the centre of that is the future of China.

"Once we start thinking about these things, we also start thinking about the whole global and political order, which has been changed in front of our eyes."

Irving Tan, President of CISCO Systems for Asia Pacific and Japan, said the forum was a great opportunity to discuss the potential benefits and dangers of new disruptive technologies and the need for a coordinated approach to policy.

"It (CALF) creates an opportunity to create much broader awareness, in particular around what needs to be done to enable digitisation and the disruptive power that it can have," Mr Tan said.

"It is not just about technology, it is about policy, it is about processes, and in particular as we move forward in this world of the Internet of everything and digitisation, it is about an eco-system that really needs to come together to make that successful."

Fairfax Media CEO Greg Hywood said he would use the Crawford Forum to gain crucial insights into business and the world, particularly the sessions on digital disruption.

"Digital disruption, if you are in the media, hit us first. But it is becoming deeply ingrained in the economy, so therefore the learnings from industry to industry, and the policy issues it is throwing up globally, are a matter of critical interest to us," Mr Hywood said.

"Domestically, infrastructure. This county has to get on top of that and get on top of it quickly if we are to develop.

"And ultimately the power relationships between China, the US and the rest of the world to me are critical, and they will define the global context in which we are all working."

Heather Ridout, Member of the Reserve Bank of Australia Board and Chair of AustralianSuper, is interested in discussing tax reform and how to make Australian superannuation savings work better for the nation.

"This year we're focussing on Australia's economic challenges, our fiscal challenges going forward - a very common theme, a very well-trodden theme. Hopefully, we'll be able to bring some new angles," she said.

"I'm chair of AustralianSuper. One of the great strengths Australia has is its two trillion (dollars) in super savings, and how we really make that work for Australia. Plenty of areas to talk about there, infrastructure being the most obvious."

Other speakers over the two-day forum include Acting Prime Minister Warren Truss, Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek, Business Council of Australia President Catherine Livingstone.

International speakers include former Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa, Latha Reddy, global commissioner on Internet governance and former National Security Advisor of India, and Richard Solomon, former US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and the Pacific.

For more information and a full program visit https://calf.crawford.anu.edu.au/calf-2015.