BA Hons (E.Cowan); PhD (Curtin)


Matthew Tonts is a Professor of Geography who has made on ongoing contribution to the study of uneven economic and social development. There are three main themes in his research. The first is a longstanding interest in transformation of rural economies, and in particular those based on agriculture and mining. This research has focused on how local economies, businesses and workforces have adjusted to broader global and national processes of economic restructuring and policy reform. The second theme builds on this work and considers the changing structure of rural communities. This includes research on matters related to the social wellbeing, demographic change and transformations affecting social institutions and community life. The third research theme is quite different, exploring the economic and social geography of cities. Central to this is understanding how the economies of Australian cities interact with global networks of trade, finance and power, and how this is expressed in the geographical structure of cities.

His contribution to academic scholarship is accompanied by a deep commitment to research that aims to benefit people living in cities and regions. This includes research partnerships with government agencies, not for profits and the private sector on regional economic planning, rural policy and urban development. Most significant has been the development of a more than decade long partnership with the Committee for Perth. This collaboration has produced over 100 research bulletins and reports that have had a direct impact on economic and social policy in the Perth metropolitan region.

Executive Dean, Faculty of Arts, Business, Law and Education, The University of Western Australia (2017-2020)

Head, School of Earth and Environment, The University of Western Australia (2010-2016)

Professor, The University of Western Australia (2014-)

Professorial Fellow, The University of Western Australia (2006-2014)

2020 – Fellow of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia

2014 - Vincent Fairfax Fellowship in Ethical Leadership

2004 - Excellence in Health Promotion Research Award, Western Australian Health Promotion Foundation (Healthway)

Tonts, M. and Horsley, J. (2019), Policy mobilities and land settlement schemes, in Jones, R. and Diniz, A. (eds) Twentieth century land settlement schemes, Routledge, Abingdon.

Tonts, M. and Horsley, J. (2019), The neoliberal countryside, in Scott, M., Gallent, N. and Gkartzois, M. (eds) The Routledge Companion to Rural Planning, Routledge, Abingdon.

Plummer, P., Tonts, M. and Argent, N. (2018) Sustainable rural economies, evolutionary dynamics and regional policy, Applied Geography, 90, 308-320.

Tonts, M. and Plummer, P. (2015) Path dependence and the evolution of a patchwork economy, Annals of the American Association of Geographers, 105, 552-566.

Martinus, K. and Tonts, M. (2015) Powering the world city system: energy networks and interurban connectivity, Environment and Planning A, 47, 1502-1520.