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Focus shifts from 2020 to the budget -

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ELEANOR HALL: Kevin Rudd's 2020 Summit is over and now his work starts, sifting through all the
ideas to decide which ones will be implemented.

The Prime Minister has promised to respond to all the ideas generated by the end of the year. But
after the standing ovation at the end of the ideas fest, Kevin Rudd and his Government must now
focus on the Budget which is just three weeks away.

And with inflation expected to remain above three per cent until the middle of next year, the
Treasurer is being urged to be even tougher than he's promised to be.

From Canberra, Alexandra Kirk reports.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The 1002 summiteers have gone home, but in Canberra, politicians are still
critiquing the summit and mulling over the ideas for the nation's future that ended up being put
formally to the Prime Minister.

Kevin Rudd has already embraced some, such as developing a bionic eye by 2020, and giving students
who do voluntary community work, a break on their HECS debt. Others, such as the republic,
overhauling federalism and combating obesity are already part of the Government's agenda.

The Prime Minister's dubbed it a success; he thinks a lot of the ideas had merit.

KEVIN RUDD: There's a whole lot of ideas, I don't want to just go picking and choosing, but from,
if you like, the whole question of the economy a very clear cut call for a single, national,
seamless economy, a national market breaking down state regulation, affecting business at that end.

A community corps of youth volunteers, and if you participate, a proposal to bring down your HECS
debt by virtue of your participation as a volunteer. Look, there's some really good stuff there.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: On Channel Seven this morning, Mr Rudd said he's not too worried that by rejecting
ideas, he'll disappoint many. He says politicians don't have all the answers, so they shouldn't be
afraid to ask voters for ideas.

KEVIN RUDD: You shouldn't be frightened in doing that to say to the country from time to time,
"Hey, look, what's your contribution, what are your ideas on the economy, on health, on education,
on climate change and water," and throw the doors open. If you do that, of course you take a risk,
that people are going to come in the door and ask for things that either can't be delivered or
can't be acted on quickly.

I accept that, but I'd much rather do that and hear what people have to say and say, "Nup, we on
politics have got all the ideas, go and jump in the lake." I just think it's a better way of doing
it.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Opposition frontbencher Senator George Brandis, a summit participant, says the
measure of success is whether anything happens.

GEORGE BRANDIS: The ball is very much in the Government's court. There were many ideas raised, some
of them were new ideas, some which have attracted a lot of attention in this mornings press are
really just reheating of old ideas about which nothing new really can be said.

But we'll see what the Government does and my concern about this summit, which I participated in,
in good faith, is that so far it's all been about gesture and it's all been about showcasing Mr
Rudd and Labor Party politicians. If there'd been more attention on the participants and less
attention on the politicians, I think we would have had a better weekend.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The more immediate challenge for the Government is the May Budget. Treasurer Wayne
Swan and his razor gang colleagues are back at their desks today, putting the final touches on the
Government's first budget.

Chris Richardson from Access Economics is worried the Budget won't be tough enough, fearing the
Government's gone soft.

CHRIS RICHARDSON: The Treasurer spoke of being Scrooge McSwan. I just fear that most of the
decisions announced so far by the Government are spending increases, there still in Mr Nice Guy
mode, rather that Scrooge McSwan mode.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: And he's still sounding alarm bells on the promised tax cuts.

CHRIS RICHARDSON: It's really only between 10 and 20 per cent of Australian families that are
feeling a notable burden from the increase in interest rates. And that just may not be enough
shoulders bearing the pain basically, it's too concentrated.

The Government needs to be spreading the pain of the slowdown that we do need to bring inflation
into line.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The Government says it's a very difficult time to frame a budget, but the Treasurer
won't comment on a report that ministers are debating internally - whether to lock in the second
round of tax cuts due from 2011 in next month's budget.

Economist, Professor Bob Gregory from the Australian National University, says it's prudent to
stress the budget bad news.

BOB GREGORY: I think Swan is putting out all the messages that it is going to be tough budget, and
I think in many ways it has to be reasonably tough, right, because if it's tough as you want it
early in the political cycle and also the economy is quite strong.

But I think the Government has quite a serious, they're in a serious situation because today is
much more difficult forecasting where we're going to go than it has been for sometime. Because on
the one hand we have a tight interest rate policies and the downward pressure coming out of the US,
and on the other hand we have the very, very strong pressure coming out of China, which is going in
the opposite direction with the price of exports.

And getting the balance right between those two things is really going to be, it's going to have a
high luck content because we are forecasting in an environment which is a very tricky one.

ELEANOR HALL: That's economics professor Bob Gregory from the Australian National University,
ending the report by Alexandra Kirk.