President's Report November 2019

One of the key messages conveyed to me by the industry, was Greenlife Industry Australia (GIA) had to show value to businesses. Being a business owner myself, value can be demonstrated in many forms. It can be as simple as the ability to make phone call to a GIA staff member and get an update on an issue or it could be a longer-term matter requiring representations to a Minister. Because of the multitude of issues that are progressed that enable our industry to flourish, GIA will need to be flexible, adaptable and very agile. Above all, GIA needs to communicate the work that is being undertaken, on behalf of the industry. If we cannot communicate how effective we are as an organisation, then it’s difficult to expect businesses to understand the value to their business.

As the industry peak body, we have a statutory obligation to Government in relation to our industry levy and certain biosecurity agreements. This requires prudent management to ensure we maximise the opportunities for joint funding with Government. Our relationship with Horticulture Innovation is vital, however we must lead the discussion on marketing and R&D issues that are vital for the growth and long-term sustainability of our industry.

As an example, the Federal Minister for Agriculture released a discussion paper on the modernisation of the Research and Development Corporation (RDC) system. There are 15 RDC across Australian Agriculture and the nursery industry contributes its statutory levy to Horticulture Innovation Australia (Hort Innovation) for investment in R&D and marketing activities. GIA is very supportive of the levy system and the collective investment in “pre-competitive” R&D and marketing projects to improve the professionalism, productivity and profitability of levy payers and industry. GIA, as the nursery industry peak body, will work with Hort Innovation and maintain an oversight of the levy investment and provide advice in the areas requiring investment, as long as Hort Innovation respects the knowledge, expertise and networks within peak industry bodies.

GIA will make a submission to the Minister with respect to the issues highlighted in the discussion paper around the RDC structure, collaboration, uptake of R&D and advocacy. GIA’s position which will be outlined in the submission due 20 December is that levy and government-funded research, development and extension (RD&E) through Hort Innovation will help provide the evidence with which industries can base policy positions.

Recently GIA intervened on an issue, that was having profound effects on several businesses. Due to a change in biosecurity and quarantine procedures, wait times for tissue culture importation were being significantly delayed. In this instance, the issue was reported by businesses to their respective State Associations and the issue was referred to GIA. It required a collaborative effort, led by John McDonald, for the matter to be resolved at the highest levels in the Department of Agriculture. Speaking to those businesses involved, this saved hundreds of thousands of dollars in production. Well done to all those involved.

In order to demonstrate value to the industry, my challenge will be to ensure we have the contacts in Government, an agile network of industry professionals and the policies and procedures that will enable our industry to flourish.

In the coming months, I will attempt to meet with all State Associations and those businesses that have joined as direct members to thank them for their support. Finally, I would like to thank outgoing President, Karen Brock for service to the industry and her stewardship of NGIA and GIA. Karen has been a tireless contributor to the industry for many years and her leadership during a period of change was significant.