President's Report November 2020

Firstly, I’m extremely pleased announce that today we have received news that the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) in partnership with Greenlife Industry Australia has been successful in securing a funding grant from the National Product Stewardship Fund for over $530,000 to implement a pot recycling program (the PoPPr Program).

I want to specifically acknowledge the leadership of Garden City Plastics, particularly Matthew Mills, in progressing the initiative with APCO. GIA has prioritised the sustainability portfolio and partnering with APCO for this initiative is working to deliver on the industry’s sustainability credentials. Congratulations to all stakeholders who have participated and supported the project to date. I hope you continue to provide your feedback at the next workshop later this month.

With the release of Greenlife Industry Australia’s first annual report I wanted to highlight a few of the achievements of the association in its first year of operation.

As businesses owners, many of us know the challenges to starting a new organisation. No one could have anticipated the hurdles navigated by GIA during its first year of operation. I am pleased to say that as an organisation and industry we have proved our resilience during this time.

From July to October 2019, we successfully managed the operation of both NGIA and GIA to facilitate the important transition of administrative and regulatory requirements while also continuing to deliver our existing contractual obligations and acting on our promise for a strong and unified industry.

Uniting stakeholders in a plan for our industry’s future was one of the great achievements of 2019. The Strategic Plan workshop resulted in a focused direction for the GIA Board and has led to the continued establishment of committee’s filled with subject matter experts to guide positioning and progress for GIA.

The first national conference for GIA Healthy Plants Healthy People also brought our industry together and shone the spotlight on the West Australian industry. We have talked about the fortunate timing of the conference in relation to the virus; but it was also timely for launching the national strategic plan for 2020-23 and the International year of Plant Health; and we had an opportunity to see new R & D, hear about pot sustainability initiatives (now proving successful, per above), discuss greenlife supply markets and catch up with our interstate colleagues.

We advanced our advocacy efforts in this financial year to advocate for greenlife in respect of the bushfire crisis and global pandemic. Despite the obvious set back in Victoria, the efforts of Greenlife Industry Australia singularly and in partnership with aligned industry bodies, ensured awareness of the industry’s essential value to the country.

We delivered a retailer support campaign promoting Members through Plant Pals; transitioned FMS to the Australian Plant Production Standard; represented the Australian industry internationally through AIPH; embraced our biosecurity responsibilities and appointed staff to progress the activities for membership, plant protection and financial management of the association.

It is appropriate that I thank the staff of GIA on behalf of the industry and the Board for their hard work during the reported financial year and as they continue to advance the strategic plan.

No doubt, it was a demanding first twelve months but as an industry we have a lot to be thankful for. Not only have we been able to continue to trade, but many have also prospered under the strongest trading conditions in many years, possibly ever. And while Victoria continues to emerge from a 121-day lockdown, indications are that the local industry it is bouncing back strongly.

And with this, I make a request of growers and retailers during this incredibly busy time, to participate in the industry data collection which is currently underway.

I know first-hand how short of time we all are. However, I also witnessed this important data being used to advocate for our industry this year. It was critical in ensuring our industry was considered ‘essential’. Now more than ever, we need your support to capture this information. If you are contacted to provided data in this survey, I urgeyou to participate. Our data collectively, was used in a compelling argument in our favour.

We have much more to do, but I am optimistic for the next twelve months for our industry and our national association.