The impact of COVID-19 on Australian cities and communities has challenged Australia to reflect on and rethink the way we live, study and work, and to adapt the way urban spaces are planned and conceived to ensure communities are more resilient and inclusive.

Infrastructure, industry and planning leaders will come together as part of the second phase of the Monash Commission with the aim of developing practical recommendations for urban planners, governments and communities for cities of the future.

The Monash Commission’s second inquiry is focussed on “The Liveable Metropolis: The future role of intermediary cities to deliver resilience, impact and prosperity”.

The Monash Commission brings together Australian and international leaders to conduct in-depth and independent inquiries that capture the best available evidence and public perspectives to assist Australia and other nations to respond to global challenges.

Anticipating the post-pandemic economic and cultural environment, an independent panel of esteemed business, academic and policy leaders will explore what makes a ‘liveable metropolis’. This second inquiry focuses on the ‘intermediary city’, often referred to as ‘second cities’ or ‘non-CBD cities,’ which are smaller, but deeply connected in a larger city network.

The inquiry will shed new light on the liveability, resilience and inclusion debate of our cities by looking at the unique role played by intermediary cities, which are often overshadowed by major CBDs and large metropolises.

Monash University President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Margaret Gardner AC, founder of the Monash Commission and Executive Sponsor for this inquiry, said: “Even before the pandemic, cities across the globe were grappling with accommodating sprawling development and congestion, and debating what planning and innovation would ensure sustainable growth to promote the quality of life for citizens.

“The repercussions of the pandemic have not been felt evenly by communities, which again raises the need to rethink the way we plan and conceive the places in which we live, work and study to ensure we are resilient and inclusive into the future.

“The Monash Commission has chosen to focus on a compelling and multi-dimensional issue for societies across the world, which is why the Commissioners brought together for this panel are experts that span the many facets of this topic, from planning and architecture, to innovation, technology and governance,” Professor Gardner said.

Respected industry leader and former cabinet minister, Mark Birrell AM, who is currently Chairman of the Australia Post Super Scheme and Non-Executive Director at Transurban, will chair the second inquiry of the Monash Commission. He will be joined by:

  • Terri Benson, Managing Director of Birdon, with experience in a range of both executive and non-executive director roles in the government utility and private infrastructure sectors.
  • Professor Kees Christiaanse, Architect and Founder of KCAP (Rotterdam), a world-renowned architect and urban planner with expertise in the redevelopment of industrial precincts.
  • Professor Khoo, Teng Chye, Professor in Practice, Department of Architecture, and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, National University of Singapore, a leading expert in the fields of liveability, engineering and urban planning.
  • Professor Kris Olds, Professor, Department of Geography, University of Wisconsin-Madison, with research expertise in the globalisation of higher education and research, as well as the integration of infrastructure, platforms and cities.
  • Gabrielle Trainor AO, Non-Executive Director and Advisor, ACT City Renewal Authority, and the Western City and Aerotropolis Authority, with experience spanning more than 25 years on a wide range of planning, infrastructure and city renewal projects in the public and private sectors.
  • Julie Wagner, President of the Global Institute on Innovation Districts and President of Urban Insight, a prolific urban researcher specialising in the growth and evolution of innovation districts.
  • Professor Jinhua Zhao, Director of the MIT Mobility Initiative and Edward and Joyce Linde Associate Professor of City and Transportation Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a specialist in behavioural science, mobility and transportation technology.
  • Professor Ken Sloan, outgoing Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Enterprise and Governance) at Monash University and incoming Vice-Chancellor of Harper Adams University.

Monash University will assist the Commission by helping to acquire fact-based evidence and research, as well as convening community, industry and government stakeholders to discuss this topic to ensure a broad perspective is heard to analyse issues.

Mark Birrell said the Commission’s focus would be deciphering the discussions of 2020 and finding the future-focused recommendations that are achievable to implement.

“The Commission wants to encourage fresh perspectives on sustainable urban development and planning in a post-Covid world. We will look beyond CBD’s and focus on ways to improve the urban centres and secondary cities that are so important to our quality of life and prosperity” said Mr Birrell.

People interested in this topic are encouraged to follow the inquiry’s progress via the Monash Commission website,

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