Past lectures

2018 - Governing the Murray: who are its people, and what are their responsibilities?

Presented by Associate Professor Ken Coghill, Monash University

In this year’s Mann Lecture the Hon Dr Ken Coghill will explore the relationship between the Murray, its people and how these connections impact the governance of this vast and unique region.

The Murray means many things to many people. Is the Murray made up of just the river and waterways or the land through which these waters flow? Should we be viewing the Murray as a larger eco-system or, more radically, as part of Mother Earth? Dr Coghill will explore these themes, with reference to Aboriginal tradition, and ask why we consider the Darling to be a separate Basin.

2017 - The evolving role of science in supporting the Basin Plan: from planning to implementation

Presented by Professor Nick Bond, Professor of Freshwater Ecology and Director, The Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre; and Dr Jacki Schirmer, Associate Professor, Health Research Institute and Institute for Applied Ecology University of Canberra

2016 - A Bright Future for Inland Australia

Too often a focus on the challenges facing the inland overshadows attention to the rich possibilities for its future. A panel of experts (see below) will present from a range of vantage points to examine the opportunities for the future of inland Australia and the factors that will enable these opportunities to be realised.

The Honourable Andrew Robb, former Minister for Trade and Investment
Mr Shayne Elliott, Chief Executive Officer, ANZ Bank
Mr Matt Pfahlert, Chief Executive Officer, Australian Centre for Rural Entrepreneurship
Professor Nick Bond, Director, Murray Darling Freshwater Research Centre
Professor Karen Quinlan, Director, La Trobe Art Institute and Director, Bendigo Art Gallery
Professor John Dewar, Vice-Chancellor, La Trobe University

2015 - Young river in an old landscape: the surprising story of why the Murray River looks the way that it does

Presented by Dr Ian Rutherford, PhD, Associate Professor, School of Geography, University of Melbourne

The Murray River seems timeless as it winds its narrow, muddy way across its red gum floodplain.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The character of the river we see today is less than 10,000 years old – a blink in geological time.

The river of the past was much larger, there were lakes and sand-dunes, and few river red gums. Many of today’s features are of course inherited from these past times, but the Murrays of the past would have been unrecognisable to the indigenous communities that lived along the great rivers many years ago.

2014 - Parallel Living: Communities along the river

Presented by Cathy McGowan AO MP Federal Member for Indi

Communities living on the border understand that the Murray River creates a physical boundary, and governments create invisible boundaries. In modern life, the physical boundaries are easily crossed but the invisible boundaries can be difficult to negotiate.

Cathy, who has lived this parallel life, knows the challenges faced by rural and regional communities every day. In this lecture, she discussed the opportunities for communities to find ways to cross the invisible boundaries and for governments to build bridges to create sustainable rural and regional communities.

2013 - Young People Making it Work

Presented by Professor Johanna Wyn, Director of the Youth Research Centre

In this lecture, Professor Johanna Wyn discussed her recent book about young people who have made their lives in rural and regional communities. In this book she challenged the view that rural-based lives represent deficit and disadvantage.

Our increasingly urbanised society has come to see urbanised living as the standard, and researchers often assume that living in rural and regional communities is somehow second-best. Her research, which followed a group of Australians for 20 years of their lives, shows that this isn't the case – and that young people have been able to remain connected to the places and people that matter to them.

2012 - Australia's Science & Australia's Future

Presented by Professor Ian William Chubb, Chief Scientist of Australia

Australia has many passionate and talented researchers and scientists working towards a better future for their fellow citizens and humanity more broadly.

In this lecture, Professor Ian William Chubb discusses the Health of Australian Science report, which highlights the considerable achievements of the nation's scientific community. It also identifies some of the challenges we face if we're to build on these accomplishments. It's a timely reminder that we cannot be complacent about science if we want to secure prosperity for future generations.

2011 - Community conversation

Unlike previous years, this lecture was delivered by individual speakers adopting a 'community conversation' format. This allowed key experts, stakeholders and audience members to be involved in a serious consideration of the central issues associated with water resource management in the Murray-Darling Basin.

Moderated by eminent journalist Kerry O'Brien, the conversation included:

  • Dr Arlene Harriss-Buchan (Healthy Rivers Campaigner, Australian Conservation Foundation)
  • Mr Danny O'Brien (Chief Executive Officer, National Irrigators Council)
  • Professor Ben Gawne (Director, The Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre)
  • Dr Neil Byron (Wentworth Group of Concerned Scientists)
  • Professor Barry Hart (Murray Darling Basin Authority)

2011 Jonathan Mann lecture video

2010 - Here on Earth

Professor Tim Flannery (Macquarie University, 2007 Australian of the Year)

The subject of sustainability lies where humanity and the planet intersect. But what, exactly, is our planet? And how has evolution shaped us? Tim Flannery discussed the concept of sustainability in the context of the Earth system, and the human evolutionary path that is part of it.

2009 - Changing ways for changing times: engaging Indigenous expertise in Australia's response to climate change

Joe Ross (Chairperson of the Indigenous Water Policy Group, Member of the Bunuba people in the Kimberley region of WA, and Chair of the Northern Land and Water Taskforce)

This presentation focused on the ways in which Indigenous Australians have been contributing to sustainable land use and ecosystem management over many years. It explored the idea that Indigenous knowledge of Australia is an imperative part of helping to restore the health of our country.

The lecture was followed by a panel discussion with Gary Murray (Victorian Tribal Council) and Gary Foley (Indigenous Australian activist, academic, writer and actor).

2008 - The Murray-Darling: A flawed vision

John Doyle (actor and comedian)

In 2006 John Doyle and Dr Tim Flannery took a 'tinnie' from the headwaters of the Darling River in South-West Queensland to the mouth of the Murray in South Australia. The resulting documentary, Two Men In A Tinnie, won the 2006 Screen Producers Association of Australia Award for best documentary. In this lecture, John Doyle shared his observations of the state of the river and its environs.

2007 and earlier

2007 - When the planet and economy collide

Presented by Mr Mick Burke, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Environment Protection Authority, Victoria

2006 - Tales of the River

Presented by Stefano de Pieri

2005 - Managing the Environmental health of the River Murray: An economic perspective

Presented by Professor Jeff Bennett, Professor of Environmental Management, Australian National University

2004 - The Living Murray: A Healthy Working River?

Presented by Dr Ben Gawne, Director, Murray Darling Freshwater Research Centre

2003 - Managing the Murray: Acknowledging the Sadim Touch and Moving Towards Redemption

Presented by Dr Roger Croome, Associate Professor, Department of Environmental Management and Ecology, La Trobe University, Albury-Wodonga Campus

2002 - One Life, One River, One Future: Environmental Education for Youth and Community

Presented by Mr Arron Wood, 2001 Young Australian of the Year (National Environment Winner)

2001 - Can Integrated Catchment Management Save the River Murray?

Presented by Dr Don Blackmore, Chief Executive, Murray-Darling Basin Commission.

2000 - From Mungo to the Murray: Ice Ages, Ancient Rivers and Earliest Human Occupation

Presented by Professor Jim N Bowler, Professorial Associate, School of Earth Sciences, University of Melbourne

1999 - Murray River People: Aboriginal Archaeology/Aboriginal History

Presented by Professor Tim Murray, Head of School, Archaeological and Historical Studies, La Trobe University

1998 - Sharing The Murray Sustainably

Presented by Mr Denis Flett, Chief Executive, Goulburn-Murray Water

1997 - Confronting Utopia: re-examining our approach to the environment

Presented by Professor Roger Parish, Head, Division of Life Sciences, Faculty of Science, Technology and Engineering, La Trobe University

1996 - Imperatives for Australia: Our Environment and Economy

Presented by Senator Robert Hill, Minister for the Environment.

1995 - Managing the Murray-Darling: Hydrology and the Ecosystem

Presented by Dr Terry Hillman, Director, The Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre.

1994 - Landcare: Community Action For Change

Presented by Mr Brian Scarsbrick, Chief Executive, Landcare Australia

1993 - The Murray River: The Source Of Our Wealth

Presented by Dr D.S. Mitchell, Chief Research Scientist, The Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre