National Presidents Message - 7 December 2015

Friends and colleagues,

As I have noted in previous newsletters, cities are (still) back, baby.

I was fortunate to attend the Green Building Council of Australia’s (GBCA) Great Cities last week, coinciding with the first meeting of the new National Council in Sydney.

The two main speakers, the Hon Anthony Albanese, the Federal Opposition Minister for Cites, and the Hon Robert Stokes, the NSW Planning Minister, both spoke pleasingly well about the need for a greater focus on better quality cities in Australia, with a particular focus on Australia’s biggest metropolis, Sydney.

I was impressed at the depth of knowledge and passion both ministers have and their access to data, evidence and analysis in promoting their arguments.

The AILA National Council were all in attendance, and heard the reassuring words of the alternative Federal Minister for Cities, ‘Albo’, as he is affectionately known, that the spaces between buildings truly shape our cities, as does effective and well designed public transport. The specific mention of the importance of us ‘landscapers being in the room’ suggests that despite the jovial use of the term, attention is already focused on the benefits of landscape architecture practice at the highest level.

Acknowledging the appointment of the Hon Jamie Briggs as Minister for Cities, Albo went further and suggested that the new Minister for Cities needs a supporting department, which also integrates transport planning, to enable great ideas in our cities to come to fruition.

He also made the strongest possible plea that industry talk to elected people as often as possible, as we are very good at talking amongst ourselves, and often fail to recognise how critical two way feedback is to the national conversation around effective policy development, funding and delivery.

The lesson for me was the importance of establishing the dialogue with our elected representatives, and providing ideas and discussion points as well as maintaining the contact, across the board, at the Federal level.

There’s some fantastic work happening at the state levels, and I look forward to all chapters increasing their advocacy efforts across a range of policy and landscape matters.

The GBCA event was a fantastic segue into our first Council meeting, held at Hassell’s waterfront offices in Walsh Bay near Barangaroo, the outcomes of which will be available soon with some very exciting initiatives as we head into our 50th year.

It was also great to meet so many NSW members at the drinks put on by the NSW Chapter in the King Street Wharf precinct. Thanks to NSW President Gareth Collins and Catherine Scheen for being such great hosts.

You may have noticed we have a new logo for our 50th year, an exciting initiative in itself, as well as some ideas for refreshing the AILA logo in 2017. Check out the 3 options and let us know your thoughts. Whilst changing the logo is not a means to an end, it may provide us with the opportunity to look forward into the next 50 years whilst respecting the achievements of the previous 50 years.

November has been a significant month for accreditation, as AILA resumes it accreditation processes under the new framework, governed by the new adopted accreditation policy and self-evaluation report. Both QUT and the University of Adelaide have received visits this month, and on behalf of all our members I wish to thank the 10 members who have willingly given their time and energy to making these visits productive and positive. These people have travelled across the country for a 2-day visit and are members of NART - the national accreditation visiting team. Thanks go to Martin Bryant (Chair), Pip Munckton, Jo Russell-Clarke, Steve Kirsu, and Kirstine Wallis who visited QUT, and Michael Ryan (Chair), Andrew Mackenzie, Stephanie Su, Tim O'Loan and Tom Griffiths who visited University of ADL. Also thanks to the Universities and their staff who provided great access and hospitality, including an intensive program for our teams. 

Finally, I’d like to offer our sincerest thanks to the following members who have volunteered their time in the following committees, which have now concluded:

50th Committee:

  • Susie Quinton, Chair (SA)
  • Neil Hobbs (ACT)
  • Jerry de Gryse (TAS)
  • Sara Padgett-Kjaersgaard (WA)
  • Nathan Collins (VIC)
  • ​Andrew Turnbull

Publications Review Taskforce:

  • Chris Sawyer
  • John Warwicke
  • Sacha Coles
  • Caitrin Daly
  • Shahana McKenzie

National Public Sector Working Group

  • Adrian Gray, Chair (VIC)
  • Dean Thornton (VIC)
  • Naomi Kavanagh (WA)
  • Joshua French (NSW)
  • David Martin (NSW)
  • Malcolm Snow (ACT)
  • Wes Mortenson (QLD)

Without the support of the membership in forming part of the committees, the worthwhile and fantastic outcomes would not be possible. Thank you to all of you.

Daniel Bennett, AILA

National President

Australian Institute of Landscape Architects

Twitter: @DJB_LA

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