CEO Update January 2020

Welcome to my first update on Greenlife Industry Australia (GIA) activities for 2020. I hope you were able to have a break over Christmas and the new year, and have had a good start to the year, even given the challenging conditions across the country. The GIA Board held its first meeting for the year on 29 January so they could hit the ground running and address a number of important issues and activities for the industry.

Australian Fires
The fires in the latter stages of 2019 and beginning of 2020 have been widespread and horrendous across the country. The direct impact on nursey industry businesses has been relatively limited but the impact on nursery businesses affected directly is significant.

The wider impacts of the fires, along with the heat and drought conditions, are still to be fully determined. The GIA Board discussed the fires at length and will develop an approach to addressing the issues, as well as standing ready to provide support. For example, Karen Brock has offered her support to member businesses for progressing insurance claims. Karen has experience in this area and provided support to businesses that were impacted by cyclone Yasi in 2011. Please advise if you or if you know of any member businesses that may like to contact Karen.

The Board has determined to progress a more “medium term” approach when things have settled down and contributions from the nursery industry could be more appropriate from a residential, community and commercial re-establishing point of view. Some activities undertaken include:

  • Contact with State Associations to determine the extent of the impact of the fires across the states with the offer of assistance.
  • Circulation of the ‘Damage Assessment Form’ which has been developed in project NY18008 - Nursery industry natural disaster risk mitigation & recover plan.
  • Circulation to members of the Hort Innovation email providing information for growers affected by bushfires. It was developed to help growers and others in bushfire-affected areas access information and resources, including:

  1. Practical bushfire recovery resources and guides for farms, and for specific crops
  2. Links to support services, including on-farm assistance
  3. Where to go to access financial, legal and other support.

Greenlife Industry Australia (GIA) Strategy
The final draft of the strategy was discussed at the Board meeting and will be finalised in February. The implementation of the strategy will be built around an Annual Operating Plan and will focus on the following five imperatives:

Strategic Imperative 1: Influence policy and programs to benefit the greenlife sector
Strategic Imperative 2: Promote the benefits of the greenlife industry
Strategic Imperative 3: Manage risks to ensure industry sustainability
Strategic Imperative 4: Develop industry skills and career opportunities
Strategic Imperative 5: Secure a strong stakeholder and funding base

I will be presenting the full strategy at the National Conference in Perth

Greenlife Industry Australia Conference
The final preparations are being made for the “Healthy Plants Healthy People” Conference in Perth on 3-5 March. If you have not done so, please register to attend the conference. The conference is organised for members to provide the opportunity to network and socialise with colleagues, find solutions and approaches to addressing production and business issues, hear how your levy is being invested and to celebrate the industry. You could pick up two or three key ideas to contribute to your plant health, your business health or your health through greenlife, that will justify the investment in attending.

Greenlife Industry Australia Staff
GIA has recruited three new staff who will commence in February. Sonya Gifford has been employed in the Member Engagement and Partnership Manager role. Sonya will start on 17 February and be based in the Castle Hill office. The key responsibilities of the role are member engagement, partnership management and contributing to GIA’s operation and administration.

Kimberley Thomas (Vic) and Emma De Landre (NSW) have been appointed to replace Tony Filippi and Chris O’Connor respectively in Plant Protection Officer Roles in the National Biosecurity Program managed by John McDonald. Kimberley will start on 3 February and Emma on 17 February.

Full profiles of each of the team members will be provided next month. They will also be at the Conference, so please introduce yourself when you see them.

Nursery Award
The Fair Work Commission, which is Australia’s national workplace tribunal, has been extensively varying existing awards as a result of the 4 yearly review of modern awards that commenced in 2014. The technical and drafting matters for the first tranche awards, which includes the Nursery Award, have been completed. The varied Nursery Award will commence operation on 4 February 2020. Click here for more details on the new Nursery Award.

Vale Ben Swane AM
As Glenn Fenton mentioned, we attended Ben Swane’s funeral. Ben made an extraordinary contribution to the nursery industry through his nursery business activities, serving on both the State and National industry associations Boards and being President of NGIA (then Nursery Industry Association of Australia) in 1986. Ben was awarded Life Membership of NGIA in 1989. He was also selected as Australian Nurseryman of the year in 1980.

In addition to Ben’s lifelong involvement in the nursery industry, he took a leading role in many community activities, including Rotary, the Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal, Boy Scouts and the Bush Fire Brigade. Two key messages from the service, that I think epitomised Ben were, to value every drop of water and to always maximise and enjoy time with family and friends.

In opening for 2020
The GIA Board, staff and I look forward to working with you during 2020 to make your business and the year ahead as successful as possible. There are a number of positive things, such as the conference, the first GIA Strategy and the celebration of the International Year of Plant Health, to help work though the business and environmental issues that will be encountered.

Please contact me at if you would like to provide comments or have questions on the activities of Greenlife Industry Australia.