From the CEO - February 2018

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2017 was certainly the year for travel, with me taking trips abroad for both work and pleasure. I ended 2017 and started the New Year on holidays in the UK. It was cold, wet, grey and drizzling a lot, but we also had flutters of snow which set my Aussie heart racing. A white Christmas at last!

A highlight was relaxing with family and pursuing my favourite hobbies of cooking, reading and visiting new places, which this time included seeing more of the Lake District and visiting the Cotswolds for the first time. Fair to say that I spent most of my time in four or more layers of clothing to fight off the cool temperatures and biting winds, yet it was such a novelty to be so rugged up.

As we moved across the country I noticed how distinct cities, towns and hamlets were from each other. The most noticeable things being the different accents, the ever-changing landscape and the differing hues of the buildings, given the many varieties of locally available stone to work with. To my mind, golden Cotswold stone is the prettiest but due to its porous nature, the least enduring.

Visiting ‘town and gown’ city Oxford and undertaking a walking tour with a local gave an insider's perspective on living in a university city with a history that goes back centuries. Despite having produced numerous British Prime Ministers, Nobel Prize winners and world-leading professionals, Oxford doesn’t take itself too seriously. Our guide told us an amusing story about some of the gargoyles needing to be replaced due to erosion. It was decided that ideas would be drawn from local school children and I saw two new works representing Aslan the lion from graduate C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, alongside Pumbaa the warthog from Disney’s The Lion King. He also pointed us in the direction of the best taverns and told us many stories of the intercampus rivalries.

Moving about in the south east was easy and I got to experience the local buses in Brighton, along with Uber and taxis, however for the long part of our journey we hired a car. The latest Volvo station-wagon came with many driver assist features including braking and lane drift. I confess to being a nervous passenger, yet mostly trusted the car’s on-board computer to manage a safe distance between us and the car in front and to keep us safely in our lane.

These features are increasingly being included as standard features by manufacturers and are but one step along the journey to autonomous vehicles. The challenge for policy makers is to keep pace with the radical change that is occurring, at the same time as maintaining a working system for new cars and older ones.

On the theme of old and new, it was a pleasure to attend the One Day International Cricket, the major opening event of Optus Stadium, as a guest of the WACA. I was delighted to see Dr Richard Walley OAM leading a Welcome to Country and ‘wanju’ written on the pitch, welcome in Noongar, in front of almost 54,000 people.

In our July 2007 press release we said, ‘A survey of members of the Committee for Perth shows strong support for a 60,000 seat multi-purpose stadium that would offer world class facilities for major sports and entertainment uses’. And what a world-class venue it is! Delivering a project of this scale and quality from start to finish in 10 years is an outstanding achievement. Well done to everyone who has played a part including our own Chair and Deputy Chair – John Langoulant AO and Gaye McMath, who were members of the project taskforce and Project Director Ronnie Hurst who hosted the Reshaping Working Group many times during construction.

This year is shaping up nicely with a larger event program and a significant body of research planned. At the February Board meeting Directors will sign off on a research program covering gender boardroom quotas and various aspects of the economy. I look forward to sharing the details with you in the next edition.

Until then, don't forget to Fringe Binge.

Marion Fulker, CEO


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