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(generated from captions) so what more could you ask for? International Pty Ltd Captioning and Subtitling Closed Captions provided by This Program is Captioned Live. # Theme music I'm Waleed Aly. Hi there and welcome to Big Ideas, of short cuts today, Amongst our selection Don's Party, wife swapping playwright David Williamson revisits and The Female Eunuch. Thomas Friedman between China and America, on reformatting the relationship to help get man back on the moon. plus an Aussie pitch for sponsors non-stop across the Atlantic Prior to Charles Lindbergh flying to win the Orteig Prize in 1927, people didn't think it was possible. flying across any ocean for granted. Now commercial airliners take the Google Lunar X Prize exists Part of the reason space exploration is impossible. is to dispel the notion that private than you might conceive of. It's actually a lot more affordable and his DIY mission to the moon More from space nut Marco Ostini a little later. not to be reconciled? First up, can Australia afford Policy and Dialogue Conference, At the inaugural National Indigenous Aboriginal leader Pat Dodson argues it's time Australia moves towards and coexistant future. a more collaborative Professor Dodson says, Sharing Indigenous knowledge, could be critical Australians deal with climate change when it comes to helping all and manage resources sustainably. Our responsibilities as Australians and great wealth who have great resources compared to many other nations cannot be ignored. For two centuries, vast tracks of our landscapes, Australia has managed to deforest we have mismanaged our woodlands into acres upon acres of grain fields by converting them and pastural lands have been destroyed, to the extent that soils native vegetation decimated, of environmental bankruptcy. and river systems taken to the brink or otherwise And yet, we still debate the validity land and water usages. of what are clearly unsustainable on the continent The damage that we have imposed since the arrival of the First Fleet be rehabilitated can in some instances and pastoral practices. by changing farming Cleverer landscaping and native grasses and vegetation and vigourous replanting of trees will halt the erosion of our plains to give life back to river systems. and it is even possible and clever use of technology - That and good management expense of the economic bottom line. none of which have to come at the of European intervention - But, if in 22 decades the first mob arrived here - 22 decades since almost every forest, we've managed to destroy or damage almost every river, the island continent of Australia. almost the entire landscape of Perhaps it's time to ask ourselves managed to maintain the balance how the Aboriginal people feeding our people between sustaining our societies, lands, seas and waters and living within our millennia. of bird, fish or animal for without destroying any species the colonising visitors - Perhaps instead of the colonisers - of terra nullius, no-one's land, focusing on the concept as a way of stealing our lives a greater focus there should have been aut discede' on the notion of 'aut disce that's Latin, it's not Djaru, 'either learn or leave'. there is still time to learn. And yet, it's not too late, for not just Australia The great opportunity that exists more generally but for the industrialised world Indigenous cultures and spirituality is to look to the way that our lands, seas and waters were used to manage our environments, for generation upon generation. Indigenous knowledge systems into our pastoral and farming, need to be incorporated and land and sea management practices to restore our ecosystems to ensure we use this century cultural and natural resource assets. and improve the balance sheet of our about nation-states We need to start thinking less

and more about nature-states. To achieve this, be incorporated Indigenous people must into planning and decision making sea and river management regimes. about future land use, use and sustain their resources The whole philosophy of how nations peoples, by our cultures, need to be underpinned by Indigenous to our environment and spiritual relationship constitutes a successful society, and our perspectives on what indeed a successful economy. exposed the flaws The global financial crisis allowed to run rampant in the world. of unbridled capitalist systems

We must learn from these experiences that we can not continue and we must certainly understand with its finite resources to live on this planet in unsustainable manner. Just as importantly, the great potential we cannot continue to ignore spirituality that resides in the wisdom, culture, and knowledge value systems communities for millennia. that have sustained Indigenous

the ingenuity and wealth We as a nation have the capacity, to work with our neighbours of our own industrialisation to deal with the consequences and our consumption. by other nations and peoples Australia is looked to for assistance and guidance of globalisation in managing the consequences and climate change. As a mature country provide that leadership. it is only just that we should

It is ultimately to our benefit our region and our planet to ensure that those who share with the respect and dignity are able to live as global citizens on having vast natural resources that isn't dependent merely that generate great material wealth. But first we must truly reconcile of this nation with the Indigenous peoples from the past arguments so that we are freed and richness and open to learn from the wisdom are greater of the peoples whose diverse cultures flags symbolised than what the colonisers'

and waters. when placed upon their sacred lands to truth and justice When we open our hearts and minds with our Indigenous peoples, will inevitably lead us then the horizon of our courage with our regional neighbours to strengthen our relationships and those peoples beyond. that level of global engagement Perhaps if we achieve we will not have our diplomats wondering the world in search of votes at the UN for a few seconds or a few minutes of game time at the Security Council. On the occasion of the national apology

I warned that inherent challenges that would confront us all as we move forward beyond the seemingly impossible hurdle - a mere apology, after all - that, in the end, Parliament found so easy to overcome. And yet who's promise has been so easily forgotten in the rush to move forward as a nation. On the occasion of the national apology, we gave the world and ourselves a brief glimpse of who as a nation we might yet become.

Today I again warn that the journey from this point will be challenging. We must demand the courage of our leaders and opinion makers to imagine a renewed nation, to be prepared to take and support the many steps forward toward a true renaissance. This must be a renaissance that is underpinned by Indigenous culture and spirituality and Indigenous views of what makes a successful society and economy. The spurious discourse that I alluded to over symbolism versus practical outcomes, over rights versus responsibilities and the notion that a collective or community is somehow at odds with the rights and aspirations of individuals still remains on the lips of many well-intentioned Australians. I continue to believe that we as a nation should be capable of developing public policy that recognises the fact that Indigenous society, which draws on thousands of years of cultural and religious connection to Australia, the lands of Australia and its waters, has survived. We define what it means to be resilient. We, as Indigenous people, we're the living definition of resilience. And resilience lies at the heart of how we are going to survive the shocks of this century and the next. And that's what we as Australians have got to come to terms with. We should be capable of creating relationships where the imperative of Indigenous life are understood and respected by governments and institutionalised as part of good governance. In this process - if this process is faced honestly, we'll find the liberating potential to forge a unique national identity and purpose for all Australians.

one that rises above the tragedies of our colonial and racist history and enshrines respect for cultural diversity as a pivotal cornerstone of our nations existence. The place of Indigenous people in the constitutional and institutional frameworks of our nation has to be approached from the point of understanding what our greatest fears are about such discourse and its outcome. This should not daunt us. We have seen that indigenous ceremonies and symbols can be incorporated into the parliament and that change to institutions are possible. Once we have confronted our fears the process becomes a much simpler process. It becomes clearer that going forward is purposeful and a constructive option for our nation building contributions. Looking back, the creators of the original constitution were men of their time and they delivered to the new federation a document reflective of the political and social imperatives of their day. But the writers of the founding document of the nation always imagined and incorporated a capacity for the nation to adapt to new times and changing circumstances. We haven't done it very often. In fact the voters of the Commonwealth of Australia have been highly discerning and considered when offered the opportunity to change our constitution been very temperate. Their tempered minds and hearts have guided their thinking and their choices. So it is vital that our dialogue in the lead up to the constitutional referendum to recognise indigenous peoples, our cultures and languages, our rights and responsibilities within that constitution. It is vital that our dialogue calls on all of us to come with wise heads, listening hearts

and the courage to confront the fears of our history. If as a nation we are able to conduct ourselves with courage, love and integrity in the dialogue before us, then the nation will be well served and future generations will not be left wondering why our courage was so lacking that we were unable to confront the truth of our history and deal with that truth accordingly. Professor Patrick Dodson speaking there at the inaugural National Indigenous Policy and Dialogue Conference.

To see that talk in full, head to our website at: Next, does theatre and social commentary really mix? Playwright David Williamson's been dissecting Australia's middle class for more than 40 years. In his celebrated 1971 play Don's Party, set on the night of the 1969 election, the guests are hoping for a Labor victory

but things turn ugly as the night progresses. Cut to Williamson's sequel, Don Parties On, with Don and his friends getting together on the night of the federal election in 2010. In his chat with Annabel Crabb, David Williamson looks back on his work and ventures views on everything from wife-swapping to the importance of Germaine Greer. I thought that the women characters this time round had really developed quite considerably since 1971, when they were pretty much being chased around the room most of the time. And they certainly have become much more appealing characters than their husbands have in the last 40 years. Were you just sort of making up for making them objects of lust 40 years ago? No, I was trying to remain true to life. (Audience roars with laughter) Because, um... Do you think women improve with age and men deteriorate? Well, yes.

I do.

The older you get, the more pathetic you think men are the more heroic you think women are. I'm not saying that to suck up to all of you. But, um, it's true that in '69 when Don's Party was set it was a year before Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch came out. Lucky you squeezed it out before she started... Well, yes. ..going on tour. Well, life changed, I'll tell you. I was looking at Carlton at the time and in 1969 there was a lot of unfocused rage that was sort of - that women were realising that they were being exploited, that their lives were full of... problems mainly to do with the men they were involved with. And there was anger but then suddenly The Female Eunuch came out and you could hear the cries of rage erupting all over Carlton as all the women read this book. 'That's what the trouble is!' And from then on, by Christ we got it! (Laughter) But it forced you out of that sort of stereotyping of women that was obvious in Don's Party -

that they were objects to be chased around the room. And was that a light bulb moment for you too or was it a sort of fear reaction when the women around you - Oh, no, no. Or a light bulb moment? It was a light bulb moment because, um, they made us read it too. 'Now read this'! And from then on we've known what arseholes we are but, yes, it did change things. And it motivated women. There were so many wives leaving boring husbands

and going back to university and getting degrees and studying and having affairs with their tutors and - Thereby producing much more material for many more Williamson plays? Yeah. Yeah. And probably much more intelligent children, I don't know. (Laughter) But yes, marriages were breaking up. There was that brief moment of group sex and sexual liberation and freedom but the women quickly cottoned on to the fact that that was more for the benefit of men than for them, so that didn't last long. Why didn't you introduce the orgiastic theme to the arrangement? Because, I mean, obviously there was a certain amount of freewheeling activity in Don's Party but the idea of an orchestrated wife-swapping routine was rather introduced retrospectively in Don Parties On as a more involved situation than it was in the original play. Well, no, this happened some years after Don Parties On - Don's Party, that sort of thing in the '70s started to happen. My old friend Graeme Blundell tells the story of when he and his wife were sitting watching television there was a knock on the door - I won't name the other - it wasn't me! I think we're all friends here, David. You can... (Laughter) And it was one of his friends with the friend's wife in tow and he said, 'Look, well, invite us in, Graeme, everyone seems to be doing it. We'd better try it.' And it was actually happening all round Carlton.

How do you cater an orgy? Just thinking because, you know... The snacks are such an issue across your two plays on this topic. I just wonder - Sorry, that's a ridiculous question.

I completely recognise that.

But you're the dramatist. Well, yes, look, it was happening. I am ashamed of it now. It was that thing of 'Wow, we've been repressed,

Australia's been a repressed suburban wasteland where nothing interesting ever happens and now, look...' There were films like Ted and Bob and Carol and Alice were they were all in the same bed together and of course being impressionable Australians we thought, that's, you know... God, so there's this incredible window of opportunity where you could get away with the most rubbish pick-up lines. It must have been almost a sort of bonanza period. Well, the wives got fed up with it fairly quickly. But, um... (Laughter) It happened and it was ridiculous but it was also exciting for a brief moment

and it was disgusting and all of that. But it happened, it was life. And - It's sort of a bit of a confessional, isn't it, this show, because just like the grandchildren and the children of Don and Kath, nobody really had to know about this stuff, did they, David, but you've brought it up and now that you've brought it up we're discussing it. Yeah, yeah. All my kids have seen Don's Party and they go, 'Oh, Dad, did you... Oh.! Yes, that's kind of one of the top five things you don't want to know about your parents just in general. And of course you have Don and Kath's granddaughter hearing about all of these shenanigans in the most unfortunate of ways. Yes, yes. Well, at the matinee today my son and his wife and their 14-year-old granddaughter came along to see the play. Nice. So there'll probably be a bit of explaining

down to the next generation as well. And of course Belle is righteously horrified at what she hears as is, of course, her father, Don and Kath's son. I mean, you've kind of set up the younger generation here as sort of judge and jury over their grandparents and to a certain extent their parents too. I mean, Belle is the person, with, I suppose, with the clearest and least cluttered moral sense. One assumes that all the complication is to come where she's concerned, particularly if she keeps watching those vampire films. I didn't have to imagine much. Our 14-year-old granddaughter is God's police incarnate. I hope she - Selina, you didn't stay on, did you? She went off in a huff when she twigged to your orgiastic goings on. Put up your hand if you're still here. No. OK. Yeah, well, she is um, ...a hard line vegetarian, and she is totally green orientated. She corrects every attitude we dare speak. She's, in short, terrifying. (Laughter) So I didn't have to - I don't have to imagine anything at all. To answer your question why I put it in I thought that actually happened back then. It was the same thing with Don's Party. I said if it has happened to me or to people that I know, it's a truth that I don't want to avoid. I don't want to say these things didn't happen. And that's been my credo through my writing career. If I know things happened, I want them to be truthfully portrayed. And unfortunately and stupidly that stuff did happen. But it's endearing that, in a way, that the people it happened with are still our friends, or still my friends. I hope they are. We don't do that anymore! (Laughter) But you live through it and you say, wasn't that stupid - yeah. So your approach is that you think about things that happened to you and if they feel honest then you spice them up a bit and put them on stage. And for 40 - No, I didn't spice it up a bit, I tell you. I was just allowing you that out. Yeah. It's amazing, isn't it, that you're without doubt Australia's best-recognised playwright. Do you get the feeling sometimes that if another younger playwright were to write the way you do they wouldn't have anywhere near the degree of acceptance that you do, if that makes sense to you? I mean it's the naturalistic style that you have in what is essentially a sort of a drawing room comedy approach. It seems like something that only you can pull off these days. Why is that, do you think? Well, I think art and drama - that art is about fashion as much as anything else and the demand for fashion changes is pretty intense out there in the art world so if somebody's doing something

that somebody used to be doing two years ago they shouldn't be doing it now in terms of form, content, whatever. But I started doing this form because I loved it. I was a fan of David Storey, a very fine English playwright who did 'slice of time' stuff and at heart I've always been a social psychologist. That's where my career was heading. I did engineering first, then I did an MA prelim in psychology and I was heading towards - I'd been re-appointed to the psych faculty at Swinburne and I was heading towards a future of experimental social psychology, which I would've been perfectly happy doing because it was the same obsession I've got now, that I really was completely absorbed by the processes of social interaction, how people use language to manipulate others to get their own ends, how they use it to fool themselves, the ego battles, the affection, how it's expressed, all of that was part of my canvas of study, but then I suddenly recognised, when I saw the first David Storey play - I think it was called The Contractor. It was just workmen coming on stage building a tent for a wedding and they built the tent in real time and just chatted amongst each other and the chatting was all about power and status but also about revealing vulnerability in a gruff way

and lives became revealed and I thought that's the sort of writing I would really like to do. And I suppose you're right - because I started doing that sort of writing the audiences are still allowing me to do it because there's a very real thing

and a very real fascination that most of us have for social process, for seeing how people cope with social life, because, in a sense, the three really strong elements of human nature are an incredible selfishness - we are self-centred to a strong degree so a cut in our finger sometimes causes more pain to us than the starvation of a kid in Africa.

Evolution has designed us to be self-centred. If we weren't, if we had spent all of our time worrying about the fate of other people,

we wouldn't have survived. So we've got to cope with that. The second thing about us though is that we are strongly social animals because our history was tribal. The only way we could get together and hunt game and all that was to co-exist in a social group of up to 200 people so we had to learn mechanisms of social coping and to be ostracised in a group like that is the worst punishment you can ever get so if you were too selfish too obviously everyone around's going to say, 'What an arsehole.' We'll pay them out. To me the most optimistic characteristic of human nature is compassion for other people's misfortune, which we do have. I don't know whether you've ever heard a baby cry - you're going somewhere and your orientation is immediately to try and do something to help. We do have an altruistic tendency to help usually smaller, weaker creatures - there's something in us that doesn't like seeing other people in pain except if you're a sadist or a psychopath, but we don't. So these three elements - the selfishness, realising we're under strict social scrutiny, and thirdly not really wanting to hurt other people too much. It's like three balls you're juggling in the air in any social situation. You want to push your own interests, you don't want to be seen to be doing it too blatantly and if someone's hurt you want to make it up to them. And it's that juggling that I've always been fascinated with and how people cope with it. Let's talk about criticism for a minute because you say that your audiences have allowed you to keep working in the way that you do and certainly you've been an incredibly bankable playwright for 40 years now in Australia. But critics don't necessarily want you to continue writing that way - it must be odd to have such a bifurcated experience of Australian theatre kind of loved by audiences and despised by certain critics and I think it's fashionable now to give Don Parties On a review in light of, well, Don's Party was OK but Don Parties On is no good. But some of the reviews of the original show kind of - People forget this that Don - Here's the Australian on September 11, 1971. 'Well, there's no sadism, passion or determination as you get in Albee, and no accuracy. The tone is instead facetious, the jibes that hit the mark do so by accident.' (Laughter) The Canberra Times - The language and lifestyle of the characters at the party is too severely and depressingly limited and their concern is only for themselves. Unfortunately the possibilities are never realised. Ignition point is reached between some of the characters but nothing of significance ever takes off. (Laughter) -Um, it's not a new Does this annoy you? I mean it must. Yes, it has over the years. I mean it's not a new phenomena me getting - and I've often pondered on why it is that I can be sitting amongst an audience who are obviously relating to those social processes on stage quite strongly. I mean last night, you were there, you could sense the laughter and the - You were laughing quite a lot.

I tell people I'm not laughing at my own lines, I'm laughing at the way the actors do them! David Williamson speaking there, with Annabel Crabb at the Sydney Theatre. Next, reformatting the relationship between America and China. Thomas Friedman is a world-renowned columnist for the New York Times and a three-time Pulitzer Prize winner.

In this one-on-one with fellow journalist Orville Schell, Friedman muses how China has been able to outplay the US on trade and innovation. Friedman thinks both sides will need to be more politically astute about the strengths and weaknesses of each system in the future. What I'm thinking about is what we envy in China today, maybe unrealistically, is not their Maoism, it's their Reaganism. What we envy is not their communism but their capitalism. What we envy is not the forced labor, the hard labour of their political prisoners, lord knows, but the harder labor of people just trying to build a different future. And I struggle with how to think about this. And Emily again said - so I'm really torn, because there's part of me that says - I have a good friend, Curt Carlson, who runs SRI, Stanford Research institute, and Curt has a saying which I really believe which is that, my words not his, but when the world is this flat,

basically, you get an inversion of the Innovation Pyramid and Curt's model is that everything top down is dumb and slow and everything bottom up is smart and chaotic.

And obviously it's half tongue-in-cheek but half serious, and his argument is that the sweet-spot of innovation is moving down. And so the societies, he would argue, that are going to thrive in the future are those who understand how to inspire, enable and empower all that stuff coming up from below -

you can see it in the internet and the blogosphere, which is very smart often, but chaotic - as opposed to trying to deal with the 'dumb and slow' from the top down. So when I think about China's future, I think of that model, and that accounted for the column Emily was referring to. But at the same time, I spent a lot of my adult life covering autocratic regimes in the Middle East, and so I kind of compare China's autocracy with the average Syrian, Iranian, Egyptian autocracy - Libyan. And I noticed three big differences which I want to test out on you. One, it seems to me that China's autocracy is, on more days in more ways, a learning autocracy. I would not say that about the Egyptian autocracy or the Syrian autocracy, or any of the others. Second, in the last two decades it certainly has promoted on merit. The average mid to senior level Chinese official you meet, and they have their Tom DeLays, just like we do, but maybe more - he just got three years today. But you meet a lot of people there who have been promoted on merit.

And third they have had - again, we're just saying this recent period - regular rotations in power.

And so what I'm asking myself is, 'Is this some new kind of an autocracy that is a learning autocracy, promotes on merit and has regular rotations in power?' And lord knows we all know about the princes and the princelings and the princesses who seem to be getting set up outside of the government and in the private sector and not inside - and what's the big story in Egypt today? It's whether Gamal Mubarak will succeed Hosni Mubarak. What was the story in Syria? It's whether Bashar Assad will succeed Hafez Assad. I don't anyone's thinking whether Hu Jintao Junior is going to succeed Hu Jintao Senior, you know? If there even is a Hu Jintao Junior. So I'm asking myself 'Is this a different kind of organism?'

And let me just make one last point, you know, one of the things I always said about what I learned in the Middle East is that there's only one really good thing about extremists, only one thing. They don't know when to stop. And therefore they do themselves in in the end. The most dangerous kind of extremist, I always used to say, is an extremist who knows when to stop. So, Saddam Hussein, Hafez Assad. Saddam Hussein was the classical extremist who didn't know when to stop. And eventually, after invading Kuwait, he eventually drove right over the cliff, causing enormous pain along the way. Hafez Assad, who died a natural death at his desk, he was much more dangerous. He was an extremist who knew when to stop, he knew when to level Hama and the fundamentalists there and kill 20,000 of his own people, and when to open it up and let Syrians drive through and contemplate the meaning of that flattened city. He knew when to murder the Lebanese politician next door, and then when to invite his son in and say, 'You remind me so much of your father.' He was an extremist who knew when to stop. And so when I think about China, is it an authoritarian system that knows how to promote on merit, have rotations in power and be a learning organism? And therefore is it some kind of very different animal? Well, you're sort of asking 'Is it a model?' Have they stumbled on something that, at least in terms of delivering certain aspects of human life, is quite successful? But still, the thing that perplexes me is where does this incredible energy come from? I mean, if you've been in China, you'll know you can get stuff done like that (Finger snap). Subway steps, six months. I mean, here you can't. I'm gonna take some notes, I'm working on a book. (Laughter)

And yet, it used to be that the situation was reversed, wasn't it? Yeah. Now, let me raise another point about this idea

that maybe there's another model. You remember The End of History? That democracy, a la Francis Fukuyama, had triumphed. The Cold War was won by us, communism had been vanquished, and this was the end of history. And then a very curious thing happened, as I try to analyse my way through this, history started up again. And it was, in essence, started up again by the Chinese and the successfulness of their - whatever this is - a model, a plan - and I think you have to ask 'Where does all this drive and energy some from?' And I wonder, and I'd like to get your reaction to this, does it perhaps come from the fact that for so many years they were really deprived of the ability to exercise initiative, to improve their lives. And so that when Deng Xiaoping finally came along

and opened the doors, not the political doors, but the economic doors so people just sort of rushed in with this pent-up energy. Could that be the source of some of the extraordinary energy that one feels there? It surely must be and I'm a really big believer that culture matters.

And I always used to um, whenever I went to Hong Kong, back in the '80s - Which now seems like its on slow motion compared to China. Exactly. But I'd always look at those tall skyscrapers there and in my head, it seemed to me, it was this incredible combination

of Chinese energy, entrepreneurship, aspiration, bounded by British rule of law. And when you put the two together you get a really incredible hybrid that just shoots those buildings up. And, you know, no doubt culture is a big part of it. Where it stops and where it starts I'm not sure. But one of the things that Orville raised when we had this conversation which has really stuck in my head and that Emily referred to, and I wonder if I could get you to elaborate, 'cause it got to the real point of how I think about this. Again, I would make no predictions about China, no bets, I have no idea where this is going. Again, they said 'I'm wrestling in my head because I do know a lot about the flat world.' And what this platform does in terms of empowering individuals, and what individual empowerment and creativity means as a driver to innovation and whatnot.

And that's why I don't know where this is going, but I know as a snapshot for today, we do see in them things we used to see in ourselves. And the Chinese blogger who says 'We know the price of 'Can do'' absolutely, but I bet his parents could tell him a little about

the price of 'Can not do'. And what is the trade-off there, also? So talk a little bit, Orville, about that point you raised with me, which is - 'cause you were wrestling with the same thing - we were really reluctant to openly admire this system, not only for political, democratic reasons, but because we're also not sure, and yet at the same time you see people coming together. You see to me, what ails America today, what our book is about, is we can no longer do things big, hard and together. What made America great was we did, in every big historical turn, we did things that were big, and hard, and together. Think of Kennedy's Houston speech for the moon shuttle. What did he say? 'We go to the moon not because it's easy, but because it's hard.' And that vision was so powerful, animated so many Americans, it lived on after his death and reached its fruition. I think what characterises our country today and the deepest sense of inchoate envy toward China is that we can't do things that are big, hard and together anymore. You know, we had an event here last week, Tom, with a group of property developers, city planners, architects, talking about China and cities. And, you know, one of them suggested that here in New York, almost every single iconic building or piece of infrastructure was built in the '30s. All the bridges, all the tunnels, the parks, most of the buildings that you know the names of, and since then, we've had a few buildings, but not much else has changed. Let me pick up on that because one of the things - the conversation that we're having right now - I found in doing this book is actually the water cooler conversation happening all over America. Everywhere you go - People are afraid of it? They are a little bit. The reason I say that - I was at the Kennedy Center Honours last month. I was seated next to a woman, didn't know who she was, we were seated in the hall.

And we just started talking and she told me the following story. She worked for a big telecommunications company. She said I took my daughter to the Brooklyn Transportation Museum last weekend and they have on display all these bridges and subways and all these things we built and I thought, 'We did this then'. And today we can't fix a pothole. So what's going on? Well, I think - what I think's going on is several things. One is - the problems that the greatest generation face were all inescapable, overwhelming and in your face. The Great Depression, World War Two, Pearl Harbor, Nazi fascism and Soviet communism. The problems we face - climate change, the deficit, um...energy... The financial - Financial. They all unfold incrementally. They all unfold in a big, ambiguous, incremental arc and therefore you get the frog in the pail kind of phenomenon. Where there's never a Pearl Harbour moment that really catalyses a decision until it's too late. I mean my friend Rob Watson, a great environmentalist, who invented LEED buildings always like to say if you jump off the top of an 80-storey building

you can actually think you're flying for 79 storeys.

It's the sudden stop at the end that tells you you're not. And we've been courting a sudden stop at the end, I would argue. And someone said to me this afternoon 'Gees, Obama really had a great December, didn't he?' I said, 'Yeah, listen, if I borrowed $700 billion more from China to pay off every end of the political spectrum with a tax cut I could have a good December too. Um, you know... And it's wonderful that he got 'Don't ask, don't tell' through but to me it should've been a decision taken in one day administratively, you know, by the Pentagon. But did you notice that the day 'Don't ask, don't tell' passed there was actually another very big story that got no attention? It was a big story. It was all over the web. I plucked it out.

It was that 25% of the young people who apply to go into the US military today cannot pass the entrance exam.

How hard do you think the entrance exam is to get into the US military? I'm sure it isn't, you know, you need to be able to do more than fog up a knife but I'm not sure, you know, it's exactly the SAT 2s either. And 25% cannot get in. So we have a week of to-ing and fro-ing over something that should've been a slam dunk -

letting gays and lesbians who want to serve their country be in the military openly - Who are already in the military. But the real story gets no attention. And so that's the second problem. We're polarised over - we're polarised and we're polarised over all the wrong things. New York Times columnist and author Thomas Freedman speaking there at the Asia Society. Finally today - the push for Australia to get involved in privately funded space exploration.

Marco Ostini is founder of the Lunar Numbat project, which is trying to help win an international competition to safely land a rover on the moon. At TEDxCanberra, Ostini argues that space still holds the answers to some of the biggest scientific questions on Earth. Part of the reason why the Google Lunar X PRIZE exists is to dispel the notion that private space exploration is impossible. It's actually a lot more affordable than you might conceive of. But why the moon? Well, firstly, it's not that far away. My Subaru wagon has done more kilometres than is the distance from the Earth to the Moon. (Laughing) It's a trusty old beast. But, it's very important to understand the Moon scientifically. When you learn about the Moon, you learn about Earth. We know the Moon was formed from a planetary collision of the young Earth with a Mars sized object. And this certainly gave the Earth's innards something to think about. But it also lead to the convection currents

that generate the magnetosphere. The Earth's magnetosphere in return is strong enough to protect life on Earth from radiation and from its' atmosphere being stripped away. As has happened on Mars. The Earth's oceans are not the only thing that benefits from the Moon's tidal effect. This push me pull me effect also works on the Earth's molten innards. And generates kinetic energy which in the process contributes to energy back towards the maintenance of the magnetosphere, which protects us all. There are 23 teams competing in the Google Lunar X PRIZE.

Lunar Numbat is a partner to the team, White Label Space, who are one of the best organised.

They are the only team, as well, with significant Australian presence in them. And this is reflected in them being the only team with an Australian flag in it, and the Southern Cross. (Small applause) The lead engineer Dr Andrew Barton is an ex-pat Australian. He had to leave Australia to work in his industry, in space science. He worked at the European Space Agency and now works at the AOES. He is a very skilled space engineer. White Label Space seeks to attract commercial sponsorship by providing an unbranded lunar mission that corporate entities can purchase the rights to have their name on. This works in a similar manner to Formula One racing. And, how much has Formula One racing done for society -

I suppose it have us disc brakes, you know. (laughing) We've got turbos now, you know. And Clarkson's got a job. Anyway, this may sound unusual, but have a quick look at this graph. It quickly reveals that advertising spending by corporations in red, is already rivalling and overtaking national space agency funding in blue. The White Label Space required mission funding is the little slither here on the right, with the arrow pointing to it, just in case. And just for reflection - compare Toyota's marketing budget to the entire funding to the Japanese Space Agency. And the Japanese Space Agency has actually done some very impressive work.

Now, why would sponsors want to be spending money on cars that go around a track to enhance their image when they could actually be associated with a successful Lunar mission? Along the way - along with Lunar Numbat, White Label Space also has significant partners like the Tohoko University space robotics laboratory, led by Professor Kazuya Yoshida who has contributed to numerous Japanese space missions including the Hayabusa asteroid return mission which landed successfully fairly recently in Woomera. They're working on the rover for us,

it's already in quite an advanced state and it's beautiful. The White Label Space lunar mission is well planned and importantly, achievable. Quite achievable. It's been crafted by people who do space science for a living and the numbers add up. The mission is documented in their mission concept summary

which is available to all of you on their website - it's publicly available. So, what's Lunar Numbat? Well, we're an open source space technology collaboration formed by a group of volunteers in Australia and New Zealand. Our goal is to develop innovative, low cost, open source hardware and software technologies specifically with space science in mind. And we also have an eye to encouraging and advocating space science, especially in Australia. The areas of focus development for Lunar Numbat at the moment are that we are to design and build three components for the White Label Space lunar mission. A radar altimeter which will be used to guide the lunar lander as it approaches the surface of the Moon. Throttle control avionics which are used to control the thrust of the lunar lander

as it descends to the surface of the Moon, and provide a soft landing. And also high definition video and still transmission to allow detailed still and video images from the surface of the moon to be received back on earth over very low bandwidth. Lunar Numbat is cooperating also with the Australian Space Research Institute to provide them with roller control avionics, for their AUSROC 2.5 and AUSROC Nano launch vehicles, which are in development. What Lunar Numbat really is about, and what makes us special, is that the components we're designing are covered by open source licenses,

and this makes our work available and modifiable and dependable. For people related in space science work, what that means is they won't have the rug pulled under them when they start using it. In practice, this means that not only White Label Space and ASRI benefit from the parts we're developing, but also any entity that's in need of them.

We're using the methodologies that made the internet what it is today, in an attempt to lower the barrier to entry to space science. And in time, we hope this will lead to universities and private entities and space agencies having easier access to space. Space science is a global responsibility, and like other vital endeavours it requires commitment from government and private entities. Modest funding for an Australian space agency needs to become a line item in the Australian federal budget. Globally Australia is now the only G20 nation that does not commit to this responsibility, after Mexico went and formed a space agency. Space science answers the questions we should be asking and haven't.

The Google Lunar X PRIZE will help restore innovation to space science.

White Label Space is one of the best teams and Lunar Numbat is assisting by introducing open source space science parts. I'd ask you to join with us, we've got Facebook, Twitter, etc. Interact with us, so that we might build the tools to do this science, ask the questions and get the answers that will benefit all people and life on earth. Thank you. (Applause) Marco Ostini, the Australian project leader of Lunar Numbat, seeking sponsors to the moon. That's it for our taste test of Big Ideas for this week. Remember, you can find all of the talks you've seen on the show today in full and an entire galaxy of stellar speakers at the Big Ideas website at the address on your screen. And look out for more of our shows on News 24, Saturday and Sunday at 1pm. I'm Waleed Aly, see you next time. (Closed Captions by CSI) VIVALDI: The Four Seasons Summer - Presto 'But 20 years ago, this tree was a sapling. Now it's grown big and tall and it's ready for the cutting. A notch determines which way the tree will fall. This way, the lumberjack avoids getting a nasty bump on the head.' Timber! 'As a type of plant, wood is made up of millions of tiny cellulose fibres and it is these fibres that must be knitted together to make paper. The wood will be chopped into millions of tiny shreds of sawdust and at the paper mill, these pieces of sawdust will be mixed with water. The water is needed to help us separate out all the millions of fibres one from another. The resulting porridge is stirred. The job is finished off by high-speed grinding between the teeth of two steel wheels. And so to the paper-making machine itself, rhythmically cleaning its perforated drum. The drum sucks the cellulose fibres onto its surface.

There, they bind together in a spongy layer that is in effect a form of fat, wet paper. On the top of the picture, a layer of felt arrives to pick the soggy paper off the roller

in a process called couching. Here you can see the very point where contact between paper and felt is made. Having done the delicate job of lifting the soggy paper from the rotating drum, the felt has to give it up. Now, it heads off into a mass of hot, steamy rollers

that flatten it and dry it out. After passing over several of these, the paper is ready for the next process, and that is called sizing. It's dipped in a bath of special chemicals that give it a coating that make it easier to draw or paint onto. Having been sized, it has to be dried again before being finally turned onto a hollow core like an oversized toilet roll. Before the paper can be sold, it has to be tested by the scientists. They want to know if it can hold paint properly. Can you play naughts and crosses on it? If the paint dries on properly and the ink doesn't run, the paper is passed, and can be chopped into sheets, perfect for painting a nice big picture or two. This paper is of the highest quality and so is sold in small packages of only 12 sheets. Carefully, the sheets are placed into plastic bags. These are sealed up by a hot iron inside this clunking packing machine which makes the packets watertight and dustproof. From here, these sheets will be sent all over the world to be used by all sorts of artists, some good and some not so good.

This artist, however, is an expert. He's cleaning his pen, and drying it with another type of paper. He's making an ink picture of a beautiful building called a rotunda. Most of us, of course, prefer to paint in colour. I wonder what these two are painting. Hm. Whatever it is, it seems to be requiring a lot of concentration. Ah-ha! No wonder - it's a moving target. A fine picture indeed and one that could grace even the poshest of art galleries.' Closed Captions by CSI This Program Is Captioned Live. A taxing issue follows Julia

Gillard to the US. I will

continue to press to continue to press to price

carbon. Milking it for all

it's worth. A Senate inquiry

under way into supermarket

pricing. Libyan rebels on the

retreat as Gaddafi's forces

more organised. And trading

places. Prince Andrew's affairs

of state back in the spotlight. Are you an embarrassment, sir? Are you

resigning?