Adapting for the Easter Long Weekend

7 April 2020
Dear Members and Stakeholders

It is interesting listening to Australia’s Chief Medical Officer who has provided a guiding light to all of us during the COVID-19 pandemic. He has said things such as “the virus writes its own rules”and “we need to adapt and modify our behaviour and approach to dealing with it”. I believe, that as an industry, that is exactly what you are doing to ensure all businesses in the nursery supply chain are able to operate and trade.

In my updates, I find that I am using words like “reiterate, continue, again, repeat, restate, maintain, …” and it must sound repetitive. However, it is important to repeat and reiterate the messages from the Government to ensure we do deal with COVID-19 and remain safe and healthy. Therefore, much of my update is restating things from previous updates but with additional details of activities that have been progressed.

As always - our main focus continues to be ensuring all our businesses can continue to operate and trade.

Workplace Health and Safety

This topic is the most important aspect of managing your business to keep it operating and able to trade. Please continue to follow and comply with the Government guidelines and instructions on health, hygiene, social/physical distancing and gatherings.

It is vital this can be demonstrated to anyone and everyone. It is also vitally important in supporting the case we are making to Government around the importance of production and retail nurseries and allied supplier businesses to keeping businesses operating.

Retail nursery businessesare the public face of our industry. Employers, staff and customers need to feel safe in the current climate. Even more important will be how retailers manage customers over the Easter long weekend.

We have seen some great ideas to enforce the distancing requirements within retail stores and we’d love to share your suggestions to support garden retailers across the country. Please email your in-store adjustments to kobie.keenan@greenlifeinustry.com.auand we will collate the information and photos to provide directly to retailers.

Examples from Tim’s Garden Centre and Elegant Outdoors in NSW are provided here:



Working together – Your National and State Associations

I convened the weekly meeting with the State Association Members earlier today.

In our meeting we discussed ‘essential services’ and that the nursery industry is a part of horticulture and the Federal Minister for agriculture continues to support horticulture as a vital industry. We also covered transport, GIA’s promotional plan, amendments to the Nursery Award, supply chain customers and our submission into the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements, including the Black Summer bushfires.

Advocacy for Member Businesses and Greenlife Supply Chain

We have maintained our linkages and interactions with the Federal Government, in particular with the Departments of Agriculture and Industry. There is no particular update from the recent Agriculture Ministers (Federal, State and Territory) meeting since last Friday as things are settling down into a ‘new normal’. No additional measures were announced after the Prime Ministers’ press conference today.

Nevertheless, our industry needs to continue to demonstrate to Government our preparedness and ability to preserve and maintain all greenlife while reducing the risk of COVID-19 within our businesses. It is for this reason I am reiterating how important it is to develop a contingency plan. You can download a business contingency plan template HERE. Please be aware this document is regularly updated as more information becomes available. It is provided in Word you can amend it easily and will appear in your Download Folder.

Nursery Award

As advised last Friday, the Fair Work Commission proposes to vary 103 awards (including the Nursery Award) to insert a new Schedule X - Additional measures during the COVID-19 pandemic, on the initiative of the Commission. The measures include an entitlement to unpaid ‘pandemic leave’ and the flexibility to take annual leave at half pay.

GIA and the State NGIs are supportive of this approach and GIA made a submission in that regard. If there is an opposing submission received, the matter will proceed to a hearing that will take place at 2pm tomorrow. I will keep you advised of the developments.

I also advised that GIA and State NGIs) are also considering another variation, if allowed, would provide Member businesses with the legal ability and framework to do what they need to manage employees and cash flow in the short term. In discussion with the NGIV Industrial Relations Consultant, she recommended that amendments in this regard be taken to the industry participants and additional research be conducted. The aim will be to progress this and request other amendments to the Award that may be required.

Stimulus Package

There have been no changes to the federal stimulus packages since 31 March. You can find the most recent update HERE.

State and Territory Governments are also preparing their own stimulus packages and you should refer to State Association for those details as well as seek your own professional advice in relation to your individual circumstances.

Greenlife Industry COVID-19 Marketing Campaign

The development of the marketing campaign has been progressed with a consultant brief being forwarded today.

The aim of the GIA marketing campaign is to support member businesses specifically now and as we progress to Spring. The campaign will complement and leverage off the Greener Spaces Better Places and Plant Life Balance programs.

To fund the plan, the GIA Board has approved seed funding of $25,000 which will get the consultant engaged and started. I have had some enquiries from businesses interested in support the campaign. If you are interested in hearing more about this concept please contact me directly.

If you would like more information on any of the detail above, please contact me (0400 739 802) alternatively, please email peter.vaughan@greenlifeindustry.com.au

Greenlife Industry Australia Office

All GIA staff are now working remotely. The team is meeting remotely every week and are very focussed on managing their portfolio of tasks and delivering their work plans to provide benefits to members. The Biosecurity Project Team will notbe attending nurseries during April in support of physical distancing and 'essential travel' restrictions. However, the entire team is available to support your businesses remotely. There are plant biosecurity protocols that support both plant and human health. The Biosecurity Team remains vigilant to plant biosecurity across the country and is available and able to support you.Please contact the relevant Plant Protection Officer in your region.

Regards
Peter Vaughan
CEO Greenlife Industry Australia.

More information?

As the COVID-19 situation is extremely dynamic and rapidly evolving, Members and key stakeholders are encouraged to share their concerns and any information updates via the industry’s national information hotline on 1300 905 643. Additional information and resources are also available at www.greenlifeindustry.com.au. Where immediate updates are required, an Alert will be issued.