Day One: The Big Picture, Griffith University, Brisbane, 13th October 2015
It’s rare to attend an event such as this one that ticks nearly all the boxes. When my wife and I decided to register it was simply on the basis that it offered three consecutive sessions on issues of major significance. They were:
- Free speech, freedom of the press and integrity in journalism
- Big data, privacy and surveillance, and
- Climate change and climate justice.
The event was held at the impressive Brisbane Conservatorium on South Bank. The auditorium was full, in part due to the welcome presence of a large contingent of senior school students. Prior to the event an essay competition had been held with the winner receiving a cheque for $1,000 on the day. The organisation was impeccable. That’s to say, the staff and volunteers all carried out their roles effectively with a minimum of fuss. The sessions kept to time and the catering was well handled. There was a healthy ‘buzz’ of conversation between sessions and it was obvious that interest levels were high.
Madonna King chaired two of the sessions and Steve Cannane one. Their mastery of content and process added a great deal to the whole process. Moreover questions from the audience were welcomed. This time, however, the use of clunky mikes was discontinued. The audience was provided with a Twitter ‘handle’ for the event, allowing moderators to receive questions in real time and to pass them on to their guests. A large on-stage screen meant that speakers were clearly visible throughout the auditorium.
The quality of the speakers and panel members was, with one exception, very high. The otherwise brilliant Michael Leunig was clearly nervous, tentative and ill-at-ease. He delighted the audience with a shaky cartoon sketch but then woodenly read the rest of his address from a prepared text. I am not going to attempt to outline the rest of the proceedings as this would require a much longer piece. Instead I am going to hope that Griffith will make the videos of each session available for wider viewing. If and when that happens I will post the link(s) here. In the meantime the general link to the event page can be found below.