From the CEO, March 2020

In February, our members turned up in large numbers to provide feedback on the draft recommendations for the Hashtag Perth report which will be launched on 20th May. Ahead of the socialisation sessions, the project Steering Committee met to work through the draft report and recommendations in detail. Pleasingly there is strong consensus across the membership on what Perth needs to do to reposition itself to enhance its reputation.

The next steps are to refine the recommendations and take them back to the Steering Committee, then send the draft report to expert reviewers, including futurist Rose Herceg (who provided the keynote address at last year’s Annual General Meeting Food for Thought Luncheon). I have also begun a round of stakeholder briefings beginning with the Member for Perth, John Carey MLA.

The Board held its first meeting for the year in the second week of February and our research and advocacy program for the next 12 months was signed off. With a focus on furthering our thought-leadership role on mobility and gender, we will be holding summits in both March and July respectively. These public events will be the chance for our members and stakeholders to hear about the latest research in these areas and workshop what still needs to be done, by who and how. This makes for an active, action-oriented discussion so that we can catalyse real change.

Speaking of change, at our 25th March event on the future of mobility and lifestyle, we will be launching a FACTBase Special Report, Perth as a region of two million people. The report, which started life as a FACTBase Bulletin, has grown to be a detailed examination of Perth’s growth and development into a mid-sized city. There is also a whole chapter examining the region’s mixed-use precincts and has some surprising revelations. We are delighted that the Minister, the Hon. Rita Saffioti MLA will attend the event to receive a copy of the report on behalf of government and make an address.

The Committee is fortunate to have collaborators across the globe. At the March event we will reconnect with Gordon Price from Vancouver – who has been our guest on two occasions before – to discuss density and transit, and Prof. Jon Shaw from the UK who worked with us on the Get a Move On! project.

Collaboration is part of our DNA and early in the month we co-hosted an event with the Western Australian Planning Commission and the Department of Planning, Lands and Heritage to workshop with our members the ways in which Perth’s ‘misshapen middle’ can be addressed. Working with consultants from Sydney and Melbourne, there was a rich discussion about what needs to change to get the right outcomes, not the least of which is to promote amenity for people – rather than their cars! A staggering 40% of subdivided lots is given over to car parking and the driveway, an enormous amount of under-utilised space that could enhance our lives rather than detract from it.

On that note, I was recently back in the UK for another week’s intensive study, this time to focus on the environment. Our group work looked at ways in which Greater London could reduce its Co2 emissions by 15% this year and 70% over the decade. Despite the extensive public transport network, the congestion charge and the newly established Ultra Low Emission Zone, Londoners still make too many trips by car – mostly in the outer boroughs. Our final presentation was given at the Bloomberg office to staff from C40 cities, Transport for London and the Borough of Hounslow. Our solution to address the immediate issue of poor air quality impacting on health and wellbeing is to reduce car trips – especially those for short journeys – in favour of walking, cycling and public transport. Some of this relies on behavioural change but a lot is structural, resulting in permanent street closures.

Governance, in terms of making bold decisions that ensure results, was a theme both for my work at the London School of Economics and Politics and during the socialisation sessions for Hashtag Perth. Why? Because there are already mechanisms in place to get things done but they don’t happen. In the London exercise, we suggested setting up a Climate Change Emergency Coalition. We are yet to determine the structure in which we can bring about change in Perth but I have a sense that the private sector will play a significant leadership role.

Towards the end of February, I spent two days in Sydney for Infrastructure Australia board meetings. Every state and territory now has its own infrastructure body, including Western Australia, and high levels of collaboration are required to secure a liveable and functional future for the nation. Important work to be done.

In signing off, I want to say a heartfelt thank you to all of our members who turn up time and time again to offer their expertise to make Perth the very best it can be. We are lucky to work with a group of organisations and their leaders who are passionate about actively shaping Perth's future.

Acknowledgement of Country

The Committee For Perth acknowledges the traditional custodians throughout Western Australia and their continuing connection to the land, waters and community. We pay our respects to all members of the Aboriginal communities and their cultures; and to Elders both past and present.