John Thwaites

24 October 2012 — The Federal government has appointed Monash Sustainability Institute and ClimateWorks Australia chair Professor John Thwaites chair of its new National Sustainability Council for Australia.

Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities Tony Burke said the council would provide independent advice to the government on sustainability issues and produce public reports against a set of sustainability indicators.

Members of the council include:

  • Romilly Madew, Green Building Council of Australia chief executive
  • Rod Glover, public policy and innovation expert, CSIRO group executive, energy
  • Tom Hatton, Australian Population and Migration Research Centre director
  • Graeme Hugo, University of Adelaide Australian Research Council Professorial Fellow
  • Mark Joiner, NAB finance executive director, company director and corporate sustainability
  • Sam Mostyn, company director and corporate sustainability advisor
  • Sue Richardson, Flinders University National Institute of Labour Studies principal research fellow

Mr Burke said it was clear from the Sustainable Population Strategy that better information about how the economy, environment and society interacted, for better planning and decision making, was needed.

The Measuring Sustainability program, announced in the 2011-12 Budget, would allow for the collection of data guided by a set of sustainability indicators that would measure progress while delivering capacity for better planning and decision making, he said.

“The indicators will help us take a longer-term view and consider how actions and decisions today affect the opportunities available to future generations.

“The National Sustainability Council will report against the sustainability indicators every two years, highlighting key trends and emerging issues for policy and decision makers and communities around Australia.”

The indicators will provide information about economic, natural, social and human capital. They will cover a broad range of issues including housing supply, broadband internet connections, water consumption, recycling rates, ecosystem protection, educational attainment, feelings of safety, under-employment, unemployment and mental health.

Professor Thwaites is a former Deputy Premier of Victoria and is Professorial Fellow at Monash University and Chair of ClimateWorks Australia and the Monash Sustainability Institute.

He is also a consultant at Maddocks Solicitors.

ClimateWorks Australia, which is closely aligned to the Monash Sustainability Centre, hosted by Monash University in partnership with The Myer Foundation,  in March 2010 launched the highly regarded Low Carbon Growth Plan for Australia, which provides the first economy-wide blueprint for how Australia can achieve an ambitious reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, while also building a growing low-carbon economy.