The integral role of urban planning and infrastructure development was underlined in the 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honours, with recognition for Committee for Perth Chief Executive and Infrastructure Australia board member, Ms Marion Fulker.
Ms Fulker has been appointed as a Member (AM) of the Order of Australia (General Division) for significant service to urban planning and infrastructure development. Roads & Infrastructure magazine caught up with her to seek her views on the state of urban planning in Australia.
Marion Fulker is recognised internationally as a leading expert in the future development of cities. She is the Chief Executive for think tank organisation Committee for Perth, board member of Infrastructure Australia and Adjunct Senior Research Fellow at The University of Western Australia.
Previously, she has served as the Chair of the Heritage Council of Western Australia and as former Executive Director of the Urban Development Institute of Western Australia. Because of her on-the-ground research into almost 40 cities in the developed world, she also conducts expert reviews of strategies and plans for government entities such as Infrastructure Western Australia.
The Committee for Perth has published more than 140 pieces of research on Perth and its future. These cover areas from transport and congestion, economic development and diversity to brand and reputation.
“I am honoured and humbled in equal measure. Like most people who are dedicated and passionate, I get to do what I love to do. It is wonderful to be recognised for that contribution,” she told Roads & Infrastructure.
Currently, Ms Fulker is working on a research project titled ‘The Future of Work: Equipping Western Australia and its people for the future world of work.’ The project considers the issues related to city centres and the transport network as well as the impact of technology.
When asked about the key challenges currently facing Australia’s metropolitan cities, Ms Fulker said: “Central business districts across the country have been the most impacted during COVID-19. Reclaiming their place as the centres of agglomeration – where people, ideas and capital come together, will be the greatest challenge.”
But she sees positive signs in the direction that urban planning in Australia is headed.
“There is more of an emphasis on the need to put the right type of density in the right locations. This is a strategic issue and one that is top of mind for those planning for the future.
“We need to bring the community on that journey as any change to existing neighbourhoods tends to come with a degree of resistance. Density needs to come as a package with increased amenity and mobility.”
Infrastructure Australia congratulated Ms Fulker on her appointment, noting that the appointment recognised her many years of service as a passionate advocate of cities.
“Marion is a passionate advocate for Australia’s cities, and this well-deserved recognition reflects her deep knowledge of infrastructure, governance, urban renewal and transport,” said Infrastructure Australia Chief Executive Romilly Madew AO.
“In having Marion’s valuable strategic oversight and governance, Infrastructure Australia is a stronger advocate for the infrastructure investments and reforms that will benefit all Australians.”
This year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours list included the highest ever percentage of women (44 per cent) recognised through the General Division of the Order of Australia.