Earlier this week, I ‘celebrated’ my sixth anniversary as the CEO of the peak industry body for greenlife - over four years with Nursery & Garden Industry Australia (NGIA), almost two with Greenlife Industry Australia (GIA) and a period for both during the transition period in 2019.
This week I have taken a look back at my April update for the last six years to reflect on the genuine progress made by your national representative body. It is important to reflect our activities to ensure progress has been made and to remember achievements that have contributed benefits and value to Members.
I started with NGIA on 20 April 2015 and in my first week I visited Victoria, attended a Trade Day, visited a number of nurseries and attended a Tree and Shrub Growers meeting at Matt Davis’ Established Tree Transplanters site at Hoddles Creek. Later in the week, I had my first meeting with Hort Innovation. At the time, Hort Innovation had just completed their transition from Horticulture Australia, and I took the opportunity to discuss the nursery industry levy, funded R&D and marketing projects, their new strategy and understand the assessment process for the investment priorities. What a way to start my tenure! It was an excellent introduction to the industry, and I quickly identified activities and issues to address.
I had just attended my first national conference in Adelaide, where the 2016-2020 NGIA Strategy was launched. Mike Mehigan, NGIA President at that time, first announced the review of the industry structure was ‘kicking off’ in earnest with ‘Town Hall’ and State NGI Board consultation meetings. NGIA had also successfully secured funding for the five-year national biosecurity program.
The nursery industry levy Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP) was appointed with the members being Mike Mehigan, Hamish Mitchell, Ken Bevan, Sonja Cameron, Carol Fudge, Todd Layt, Anthony Tesselaar and John Bunker. The SIAP is fortunate to still retain the steady hand of five of those individuals and Hort Innovation investments have benefited from their careful guidance and industry intelligence. The industry has gained from their knowledge, but I do wonder about a process of renewal for different perspectives and ideas.
The industry structure review was in full swing with the establishment of a second committee to review and assess the findings of the work conducted in 2016. The management and operation of the Nursery Production Farm Management System has been transferred to NGIA to provide a uniform approach to its delivery across the country. At the same time, we were involved in managing the nursery industry interests in the Tomato Potato Psyllid (TPP) incursion in WA.
Hort Innovation’s levy funded Strategic Investment Plan (SIP) had been finalised and focused on the imperatives of increasing demand; better industry knowledge; manage plant biosecurity; improve productivity; and nursery industry career development.
The National Conference had been held in Tasmania in February to great acclaim. The review of the structure had progressed to the Future Model for the industry.
In April there was a sense of déjà vu for my first week at NGIA. I attended a Hort Innovation workshop to determine how the nursery industry marketing levy should be invested for the next five years. The sense of similarity was palpable and a clear indication we need to do more to influence the investment of OUR (nursery industry) levy.
There were two important ‘votes’ on the horizon for NGIA members – 18 May and 12 June. The “most” important vote, was due to occur on 12 June, when NGIA members voted on establishing the proposed new national representative entity – Greenlife Industry Australia.
On 18 May, Australia went to the polls to elect our next Federal Government. We had been assessing various election issues for members, the nursery industry and our broader stakeholder group. Some of the key priorities and issues relevant to the nursery industry being advocated were - plant health and biosecurity; water; workforce; urban greening; packaging; and natural disasters.
It has been two months since the launch of the GIA strategy and the first Greenlife Industry National Conference in Perth, it had been all about the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and how we have had to adapt to a new mode of operating. It was 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.
(If and) As the COVID-19 situation started to stabilise and restrictions 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.
Today - April 2021
This week I have reflected on the last six years and continued to work on the following areas - plant biosecurity, plastic recycling, the APPS business plan, planning for the 2022 GIA National Conference, career development, levy funded projects and drafting my regular update. The more time and activities progress - the more our priorities stay the same and we will continue our advocacy and project activities on sustaining demand, a productive workforce, water security and plant biosecurity.
If require any further information, have an interest, have advice, want to provide a comment and/or be involved in addressing any of the industry challenges or opportunities, or want to provide any of your reflections on the last six years, please contact me at email@example.com.