Opening Plenary Session

Day 1, Plenary Session 1A: 9:00am – 10:30am

Location: Storey Hall (Building 16) – Main Auditorium, Level 5, Room 1

Chair: Professor Paul James (RMIT University)


Margaret Gardner Margaret Gardner

  • Introduction to People and the Planet 2013
  • Abstract: Professor Gardner will open the People and the Planet 2013 conference and present on RMIT University’s role in responding to the challenges of urbanization.
  • About Professor Gardner: Professor Margaret Gardner was appointed as Vice-Chancellor of RMIT University in April 2005, having previously held the position of Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at the University of Queensland. Professor Gardner has provided strategic advice on educational pathways, human resource management, equity and employment and industrial relations to governments, industry and a broad range of institutions. She has also served on the boards of a number of bodies, including in the arts and education sectors. She is currently a member of the Council of Australia Latin American Relations Board and Chair of their Education Advisory Group, a member of the LH Martin Institute Advisory Board, the ANZAC Centenary Advisory Board, Australia in the Asian Century Strategic Advisory Board and the International Education Advisory Council. Professor Gardner chairs the Museums Board of Victoria, RMIT International University Vietnam Pty Ltd, RMIT Vietnam Holdings Pty Ltd as well as the Strategic Advisory Board, Office for Learning and Teaching and is a director of Universities Australia, Open Universities Australia and the Fulbright Commission Advisory Board. In 2007, Professor Gardner was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in recognition of service to tertiary education, particularly in the areas of university governance and gender equity, and to industrial relations in Queensland.
Robert Manne Robert Manne

  • Climate Change: Some Reasons for Our Failure
  • Abstract: It is becoming increasingly clear that human beings will allow the Earth’s climate to change in ways that threaten the future of their own species and others. For social scientists the overwhelming question is why. Some of the most important explanations and contributions from the literature will be outlined. First, the inadequacies of the international ‘system’—the primacy of the idea of national interest; the curse of history regarding China and the United States; the legacy of colonialism; the false dawn of the Montreal and Kyoto Protocols. Second, the weaknesses of the contemporary democratic political systems: short-termism, the unbridled corporation lobbying power and the political character of the mainstream media. Third, the many forms of climate change denialism, not only the neo-liberal anti-climate science movement but also the patterns of denialism in everyday life. Fourth, the reasons for the failure of the Left to identify what is novel about the present situation or even to find an appropriate political strategy for this struggle. And finally, the truly unprecedented nature of the challenge: to engineer consciously a transformation from our ‘fossil fuel civilisation’, responsible for previously unimagined general levels of prosperity across the globe.
  • About Professor Manne: Robert Manne, who was educated at the Universities of Melbourne and Oxford, was Professor of Politics at La Trobe University until last December. He has written or edited twenty books and very many essays on a wide variety of topics, including The Petrov Affair; The Culture of Forgetting; Left, Right, Left: Political Essays: 1977-2005; Making Trouble: Essays against the New Australian Complacency and three Quarterly Essays, “In Denial: The Stolen Generations and the Right”, “Sending them Home: Refugees and the New Politics of Indifference” and “Bad News: Murdoch’s Australian and the Shaping of the Nation”. Last year he wrote an extended essay on climate change denialism, “Dark Victory”, for The Monthly. His books and essays have won various awards including the Washington National Intelligence Centre Prize for The Petrov Affair and a Queensland Premier’s Prize for his Quarterly Essay, “In Denial”. Between 1987 and 2004 he was a columnist at different times for both News Limited and Fairfax, and also a regular commentator on public affairs for the ABC. Between 1990 and 1997 he was editor of Quadrant. The editorship ended in controversy. Since then he has been Chair of the editorial boards of both Australian Book Review and The Monthly. In 2005 he was voted Australia’s leading public intellectual in a vote conducted by the Sydney Morning Herald.
Kate Roffey Kate Roffey

  • Melbourne’s Swanston Street Meerkat Colony Opened
  • Abstract:
  • Breaking News – Thursday May 24th, 2018: Today Melbourne established itself as the world’s leading environmentally friendly city when it closed the CBD streets to traffic between the hours of 7am and 11pm, and opened Swanston Park – a pedestrian only green space.
  • In a world leading move, residents and the business community of Melbourne voted in by an overwhelming majority, a proposal to make the CBD a traffic free, pedestrian and bicycle friendly zone. The centrepiece of the city is Swanston Park, a beautiful green space that features the John So pond which takes redirected storm water from Williams Creek that runs under Elizabeth Street, and recycles it for use on the native plants and terraced lawn areas of the Kylie Minogue gardens that attract thousands of lunch time office workers each day. The centrepiece of Swanston Park is the open air animal enclosures that people can meander in and around. By far the most popular place in Melbourne is the Dame Edna Everage Meerkat Colony. Sitting central in the Park, the Meerkats are constantly monitoring passers by and their surrounds, and always offer us a reminder to keep looking ahead.
  • Kate Roffey, who first raised the idea of a Meerkat Colony in the city in 2012, said “This is a true example of what people can collectively do when they have a vision for the future. When I first talked about a Meerkat colony everyone laughed. Now our city centre is the most visited tourist destination in the world, and is the centre international businesses rate most highly as the destination of choice for their office locations.”
  • “This is our city – we live and work here – so why cant we determine our own vision for the future?……..”
  • About Ms Roffey: Kate Roffey is Chief Executive Officer of the Committee for Melbourne, a member-based organisation that strives to provoke debate and thought-leadership on the long-term sustainable development of greater Melbourne and Victoria. She has over 20-years experience within the commercial, government and not-for-profit sectors, providing high-level expertise in operational planning, organizational change and political strategy. She previously worked at Tennis Australia where, among other things, she helped develop the master plan for the Melbourne Park redevelopment. Prior to that, in her position as CEO of VicSport, she played a key role in advancing sport and recreation as part of making better places to live.