CEO Update 23 July 2020
Firstly, on behalf of the directors and staff of Greenlife Industry Australia, I extend condolences to the families and friends of John Greenwood, Suzanne Swane and Barry Teese following their passing this month. We thank them wholeheartedly for their contribution to our industry which is acknowledged here.
Concerningly, Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection rates are increasing in some States and as I heard from a World Health Organisation representative, “COVID-19 is determining our future”.
This is an important statement with respect to our industry’s operating environment. We must, as businesses and industry, implement business COVID safety plans and do everything possible to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This is necessary both as responsible citizens and to keep our businesses open and able to trade.
I liaise regularly with Minister Littleproud’s office and the Federal Department of Agriculture on COVID-19, more recently around minimum nursery requirements but also to understand the updated the Federal Government’s position and any implications for State and Territory Governments.
We have been advised that the Prime Minister and Federal Ministers are taking their lead from the National Cabinet which is meeting weekly. It may increase meeting frequency depending on how the COVID-19 situation evolves. The Federal Government manages the national borders with State and Territory Governments managing internal borders. From a national point of view the most pressing issue is management of seasonal labour requirements, and how it will be managed and funded if workers come from overseas.
For domestic arrangements, the Premiers are taking their lead from their respective State Health Authorities on managing the lockdown, restrictions and people and product movements. Transport routes are still open as long as applicable permission is obtained. The key points to reiterate to members, your staff and industry generally are:
1. If you don’t have a COVID-19 Safe and Health Plan for your business, please immediately look to implement a plan. A template has been prepared for our industry HERE.
2. Ensure your business is operating under a COVID-19 plan and are able to adapt and modify operations to changing conditions as restrictions “rise and fall”. Businesses need to be agile and adaptable.
3. Wait for official messaging from Government or Industry Association (National and/or State). There are levels of nervousness and anxiety across the country so aim to ensure members listen to a “source of truth” and not rumour.
Greenlife Industry Australia Board Meeting
The Greenlife Industry Australia (GIA) Board met on Tuesday this week. The key items of business included preparation for the FY20 Audit and Annual General Meeting, an initiative on reducing and recycling packaging in the industry, insurance options for nursery industry businesses and a discussion paper on GIA’s interactions and arrangements with Hort Innovation.
The GIA Constitution details the process for the commencement of director rotation from the first AGM. Rotation processes are also outlined in the constitution and the GIA Board is currently working through this information. A nomination process is required for the skills-based board and this will commence in accordance with the prescribed timelines once those details are finalised.
Nursery Industry Insurance
GIA has been advised of recent changes to insurance cover being offered to production nursery businesses. Based on extensive research and assessment of insurance available, we have determined that are three main options available:
1. Commercial Business Insurance Policy – current facility available
2. Discretionary Mutual Fund
3. Captive Fund
The outcome from the Board meeting was to convene a meeting to allow for a more detailed discussion on the options and progress the most appropriate approach.
GIA represents the interests of the industry at large and Members through interactions with Hort Innovation on a number of levels.
Nursery Products Levy:
The most important being that GIA is the Prescribed Body for the Nursery Products Levy under the Primary Industries (Excise) Levies Act 1999. This being the organisation that can oversight a process to set the levy rate and determine its allocation across eligible activities.
The Nursery Products Levy rate is 5 percent of the sale price or landed cost of the container and comprises Emergency Plant Pest Response (EPPR), PHA membership, marketing, and research and development (R&D), as shown in the table below:
- EPPR 0 percent (Set at 0% so that it can be enacted for an EPPR)
- PHA 0.25 percent of the sale price or landed cost of the container
- Marketing 2 percent of the sale price or landed cost of the container
- R&D 2.75 percent of the sale price or landed cost of the container
The nursery products levy rate is calculated as a percentage of the sale price or landed cost of a container. GST is not applied to Australian Government levies.
Levy Funded Projects:
GIA has management, contracted involvement or committee representation in the following levy funded projects administered by Hort Innovation:
NY15004 – National Nursery Industry Biosecurity Program
NY17008 – Nursery Industry Research & Statistics
NY17009 – Improving Pest Management for the Nursery Industry
NY18001 – Nursery Levy Communications
NY19006 – Developing Nursery Career Pathways
Marketing Programs - Greener Spaces Better Places (GSBP) and Plant Life Balance (PLB).
Updates on these projects are provided through our Your Levy @ Work emails and other communication activities.
Hort Innovation Constitution
As it stands, Hort Innovation Directors are partially appointed by levy payers and partially appointed by the Hort Innovation Board.
Changes to the Hort Innovation constitution in relation to the appointment of Director are proposed as follows:
- That all new Board Members be voted on and elected to the board by levy payers; and
- That the terms for all new Hort Innovation Board members be reduced and limited to two, three-year terms.
GIA supports the approach and reasoning to amend the Hort Innovation Constitution. These changes are targeted, moderate and strike the middle ground by allowing levy payers to elect board members while maintaining a skill-based board through the existing board selection process. The new processes would apply through new vacancies on the Hort Innovation Board, providing the opportunity for renewal, while also maintaining a level of continuity through the continuation of Directors who are mid-term.
It is important that these proposed changes to the Hort Innovation Constitution are supported by a large proportion of levy payers to secure the necessary 75 per cent of the vote to pass the changes. A voting register, based on last year’s Hort Innovation AGM will be used for voting at an Extraordinary General Meeting, so please check if you were on the voting register last year and if you would like to vote on the proposed changes.
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to provide comments or have questions on the activities of Greenlife Industry Australia.