Royal Society of Queensland Annual Report 2018-2019

Annual Report 2018 - 2019 (2020)


This report covers the period from 11 October 2018 to 15 November 2019. The Society has again had an active year, with several inspiring events as well as timely publication of our journal. In summary, the Society remains in excellent intellectual health but precarious financial health. During the year it made a significant contribution to outreach of science with its Rangelands initiative and, in so doing, confirmed a role in brokering the translation of science into policy. Repeatedly, the Society’s officers questioned whether any other organisation, government or otherwise, was in a better position to champion a fresh approach to managing the semiarid pastoral lands, and repeatedly came to the same conclusion: that no other body had the mandate, the necessary grounding in the natural and social sciences, and the independence from business-­­ as usual market economic orthodoxy. It remained on the fringes of the climate debate, not through any intellectual timidity, but because many expert and well-resourced entities were already active. During the year it strengthened its administrative team, which has allowed the workload of managing the Society’s affairs to be shared and extended the capacity of the Council. Membership numbers have increased steadily during the year. Council is proud that during the year it has again been able to publish first-rate material in its annual Proceedings of The Royal Society of Queensland. Volume 123 included five substantive scientific papers. In a demonstration of intellectual vigour and administrative optimism, Council readily agreed to support another four Special Issues of the Proceedings, in addition to the regular issue in 2019–2020. We lost one of our most eminent Life Members in May, with the passing away of Emeritus Professor Trevor Clifford OAM. Then the highlight and the low point of the year occurred within 10 days of each other in June. On 13 June, our Patron, His Excellency the Governor of Queensland, launched the Queensland Science Network at a reception in Government House and invested two new Honorary Life Members, Dr Ben Lawson and Ms Cate Melzer. Only 10 days later, Ben Lawson – our former Secretary and Treasurer – passed away. At the date of compiling this report, the Society is negotiating some form of permanent memorial to his intellect, his character and his dedication to the public interest.