COVID-19 Update - Don't become complacent

Dear Members and Stakeholders

We are mindful that these updates are only as useful as the new information within them. As the COVID-19 situation has stabilised to a certain extent we will move to weekly updates from today. We will continue with Tuesday COVID-19 updates as well as our end of month GIA News to ensure you remain aware with other developments and activities for the industry. We will also provide immediate alerts and updates on COVID-19 developments when required.

However, even with the improved situation, we cannot afford to become complacent or satisfied with what has been achieved. As evidence by the lockdown in North West Tasmania, the situation is still quite precarious, and the coronavirus is an insidious disease that can spread like wildfire if we don’t take the necessary actions. Fortunately, retail nurseries that have adapted their mode of selling and distribution are still able to trade in the affected region, as long as they can take orders online or over the phone and provide a delivery service.

As always, our main focus continues to be ensuring all greenlife industry businesses can continue to operate and trade. Details from the activities over the last few days are included under the regular headings.

Workplace Health and Safety

By continuing to follow and comply with the Government guidelines and instructions on health, hygiene, social/physical distancing, and gatherings then businesses will be able to remain operating and trade.

It is vital this hygiene practices and social distancing 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. This was no more clearly explained than by the Federal Minister for Agriculture, David Littleproudon The Garden Clinic on Saturday morning. When asked if garden centres would remain open, Minister Littleproud advised:

“at the moment definitely so, and I think we’ve got no plans or any other reasons not to keep them going, and they are, in short I think; they’ll be essential for everyone’s mental well-being. We’ve got to a point, to a junction now, if everybody does what we’ve asked them to do, in terms of self-isolation and social distancing when they do go out, then there is no further need for us to have further closures.”

The full episode, including the interview with Minister Littleproud is available HERE(at minute 51.10).

Retail nursery businesses are 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.

Advocacy for Member Businesses and Greenlife Supply Chain

As advised last week, I contributed to the development of an ‘essential services’ list for Agriculture at the request of the Minister for Agriculture through the National Farmers Federation. The list was being presented for review and discussion by the Federal, State and Territory Agriculture Ministers (AgMin) last Thursday. The State and Territory Governments will influence the list from their perspectives.

There is no definitive decision on the list at this stage, but the nursery industry has been included under the category – “Seed, Seedlings, Nursery Stock and includes: Production, supply, distribution and retail sale of seeds, seedlings and nursery stock, includes tissue culture laboratories, propagation facilities and greenhouses.” I will provide additional details when available.

Working Together

Today I convened the weekly meeting with State NGI Executives and we had a very good discussion around ‘essential services’, transport, Nursery Award and trading across the country.

Mark Vanderstaay provided an excellent overview of the situation in NW Tasmania and he had been in contact with a number of NGIT member businesses. Retail nurseries were closed to the public but still able to take orders and delivery. Production nurseries could also provide deliveries to the region to keep retailers stocked.

Generally, the nursery industry businesses are trading reasonably well with a range of comments from across Australia, from “the Spring we never had” to “some retailers are extremely busy” to “trade is a bit patchy”. Given the greenlife, geographic and environmental diversity of the industry there will always be businesses at different stages of their selling cycle, so it is not unexpected that there is a range of business success being experienced. One clear point made by the executives is to ensure we plan for key sales events like Mother’s Day and then how to plan marketing and messaging going into Spring.

As advised an important and positive industry meeting was held by teleconference last Thursday, to ensure that our Industry talks with one united message at this critical time. Present at the meeting were Glenn Fenton, President and I plus the Presidents and Managers of two key Garden Centre groups – Garden Centres Association of Australia Inc (GCA) John van der Horst and Leigh Siebler; Independent Garden Centres Group (IGC) Peter Thorburn and Evan Mueller. The meeting was also attended by Australian Garden Council (AGC) President, Graham Ross.

All bodies acknowledged the hard work being done in conjunction with State NGIs to keep members informed and in working with the Government to ensure that our industry remains open and able to operate and trade. This is essential not only for our economic viability but also as we deal with an important perishable product - plants. The other factor is that of course, that plants and gardens offer respite during these challenging lockdown times. Research continues to prove this statement.

Greenlife Industry COVID-19 Marketing Campaign

The next meeting of the GIA marketing committee is on this Thursday. The committee will aim to finalise the strategy brief and start to progress the development of the strategy. As advised previously 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.

As you know we have resources available outlining the stimulus packages, a template for a contingency plan, tips for businesses and workplace posters available for your use HERE.

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

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.