CEO Update April 2020

As of 20 April, I have completed five years with Greenlife Industry Australia (GIA) and NGIA. For more than four years of my tenure we went through the review, consultation, development and establishment process for the new industry structure and organisation, which is now a bit of a distant memory.

For the two months since the launch of the GIA strategy at the Perth Conference, it has been all about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and how we have had to adapt to a new mode of operating. It has been a credit to the united and coordinated approach of industry associations and industry businesses that we have been able to “stay open” and operate and trade.

As the COVID-19 situation starts to stabilise and restrictions are gradually lifted and eased, we will be able to provide more focus to “business as usual” and normality with daily life. But we must continue to work and socialise with the same responsible practices around health and hygiene and social and physical distancing.

This update has been delayed by a day so we could share the details and outcomes from the meeting of the GIA COVID-19 Marketing Response Committee held yesterday. The “other” GIA activities that have been progressed and upcoming in parallel with all the COVID-19 happenings are detailed below.

Greenlife Industry Australia (GIA) Board Meeting
The next meeting of the GIA Board is scheduled for 19 May. The key items of business are based around the implementation of the GIA strategy and include:

  • The Annual Operation Plan (AOP) for the 2020/21 financial year
  • The forecast budget for the 20/21, 21/22 and 22/23 financial years
  • The three year Member Engagement and Partnership Management and Communications strategies
  • A Revised Business and Operational Plan for the Australian Plant Production Standard (APPS)

The Board will also consider the current financial position of GIA, assess any transition arrangements still to be completed for NGIA, scope the next phase of GIA promotional activities, be informed of the levy funded project portfolio managed by Hort Innovation and be updated on database and website digital platform project.

While the focus of the Board has been on the advocacy efforts of GIA with respect to COVID-19 in recent months, they have maintained a strong governance and oversight of the GIA business to ensure we are progressing the main operational and administrative requirements of the business.

Greenlife Industry Australia (GIA) Advocacy
The majority of our recent advocacy and lobbying efforts have obviously been to ensure production, retail and allied nursery industry businesses have been able to operate and trade during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are now considering where our advocacy resources should be allocated and how the nursery industry can help drive the economic recovery of Australia.

Through our membership of the of the National Farmers Federation – Horticulture Council, we are assessing the policy and regulation changes and reforms to support industry and businesses as we emerge from the restrictions imposed by COVID-19. Some of the areas being considered are financial, industrial relations, education and labour. I would be interested to hear of any thoughts you may have on policy or regulations to establish or modify.

As a sector in horticulture and primary production, I think we need to be thankful for the relatively buoyant nature of the greenlife industry during the COVID-19 restrictions and global “shut down”. Most of the other agriculture sectors have been impacted significantly, including those producing food for restaurants, cafés and food services; cotton, wool and other fibre producers due to the decline in demand for fashion and clothing retail; and the dramatic crude oil price decline has impacted on price and demand due to lower requirement for sugar and maize used in ethanol production.

Levy Funded R&D and Marketing Portfolio
The significant project investments funded by nursery industry participants through the pot levy has continued. Most activity recently being the adaptation of the market program campaigns – Greener Spaces Better Placed (GSBP) and Plant Life Balance (PLB) - in light of COVID-19.

The GSBP focus has been on local Governments and Councils to maintain their urban greening programs to maintain the demand for greenlife especially through the landscape sector. The PLB campaign has pushed greenlife consumer communication in mainstream urban media and social media, which has generated some excellent engagement metrics with the general public.

GIA has continued to actively progress our biosecurity, statistics and communications levy funded projects, while working in isolation. The biosecurity project team has been able to manage and advance the key preparedness, awareness, plant protection and minor use program elements of the program. The webinar for the updated statistics driven and derived benchmarking data tool is on Wednesday 13 May. A good webinar to attend in isolation to assist in improving business performance and profitability.

Final Word – Keep up the good work
While the COVID-19 situation does stabilise and restrictions ease, it is vital that we “keep up the good work” and remain vigilant with how we operate and live.

We have also been fortunate compared to some of our colleagues heading into Spring in the Northern Hemisphere, who have had to destroy plants and lost significant sales, and in some countries garden centres have had to close for business.

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