There are 31 contributors to this book. The editors have found 31 quite optimistic experts, which must have been quite hard to do. Contributors must have finished their writing by the middle of this year, and that may partly explain their optimism.
Take Jay Weatherill, former premier of South Australia for seven years. He must have attended several COAG meetings in that time which he found unhelpful, bureaucratic, and a circus for a great deal of posturing.
As an observer of the National Cabinet, he is excited by the new possibilities of genuine national effort and harmony. Would he be so excited if he were writing now?
A leading Melbourne newspaper and federal political leadership smashed into Dan Andrews, premier of Victoria, as "Dictator Dan". That must have dented National Cabinet harmony somewhat.
Andrews, of course, stuck to his guns, led Victoria to a world-first elimination of COVID-19, demonstrating the real power and authority of inspired state leadership.
Pleasingly, many contributors turn to history to answer the question set. There is wide recognition of the achievement of the Curtin/Chifley governments during and after the Second World War. This, contributors argue, might provide a blueprint for national solutions now.
Mention is made of the importance of "Nugget" Coombs' White Paper, "Full Employment in Australia" (1945). One contributor, correctly in my view, references Stuart Macintyre's "masterpiece" Australia's Boldest Experiment, on Post-War Reconstruction, suggesting we follow many of the solutions attempted at the time.
This is all well and good, but as one contributor explicitly notes, what was available then was inspiring, visionary, and universally well-regarded, federal leadership.
Readers may be inclined to doubt that such leadership is anywhere on the horizon at present.
While it may be invidious to single out only one or two contributors by name, might I mention Emma Germano, "Sustainable agriculture and food production"?
She begins, "Being a farmer is a genuine blessing. It is a vocation of purpose and meaning."
She shows how, during the pandemic, food security became a cause for concern for the first time in her life.
She argues, cogently, that Australia must and is well-placed to contribute to world-wide food security, a responsibility and an opportunity
There is so much in this book to encourage sensible national debate.
Take it slowly and carefully, though, or you will miss some remarkable ideas.