The last fortnight has been momentous, with the results of the Federal Election signalling huge change in our political representation at the national level. GIA has also experienced its own people movement, losing two highly respected colleagues, whilst a former Plant Protection Officer returns in a ‘new’ role and we gain a new Administration Coordinator and Biosecurity Analyst.
On 21 May, Australia elected a new Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, who will lead a new Labor Government after nine years in opposition. With several seats too close to call at the time of writing, it is not yet known whether Labor will achieve the target of 76 lower house seats it needs to govern, or if it will take charge as a minority Government with an obligation to negotiate with the others in Parliament.
And it is the story of ‘the others’ that is the real narrative of this election. The entrance onto the political stage of the so-called teal independents, all women, who succeeded in taking seats traditionally held by the Coalition and Labor parties, was an electrifying transformation of traditional politics, irrespective of which side you stand on.
In another historic first, the two major parties secured only one third of the popular vote each – with the remaining third going to the others, including Greens candidates, who secured a record level of support from the voting public. Bear in mind that in 1950, 98% of Australians gave their votes to the two major parties. 2022 represents a radical shift, one that many commentators believe is permanent. This is the election when the Australian voting public placed its faith in a disrupted Parliament to deliver the changes it wants to see. To paraphrase writer Thomas Keneally, “Voters didn’t just change the goal posts, they dragged them off the paddock”.
What does this mean for the greenlife industry? We will not know until policy agendas are announced and portfolios allocated. We can surmise some of the things likely to happen. Prior to the election, Labor had stated its intention to dump the Agriculture Visa and invest more in existing migration programs to help address labour shortages across the industry. It seems unlikely that these measures will be opposed by the crossbench. However, it is possible that the Federal Government will come under pressure to be more ambitious in the way it solves such problems.
For example, with the Greens and many of the Independents supporting more humane treatment of asylum seekers, perhaps there will be support found for granting more asylum seekers visas to work in horticulture, following the success of those regional projects we highlighted in recent issues of the Greenlife Industry Australia (GIA) e-news?
Other big agenda issues such as sustainability, climate change and urban greening which I know are of concern to many of you, featured prominently in Green and Independent campaigns. They are therefore sure to be high on the agenda of many of the new representatives in Parliament seeking ambitious reform. These representatives will have to stare down the opposition of course, who are likely to feel just as strongly that too much reform is, well, too much.
Do you see threats or opportunities for the greenlife industry? Get in touch with me at email@example.com and let me know how you would like to see things play out.
Meanwhile, GIA has experienced its own gains and losses. I am very sad to announce the departure of Sonya Gifford after almost three years as GIA’s Membership, Stakeholder & Engagement Manager. Sonya worked incredibly hard in this newly created role and effortlessly (and cheerfully) took on responsibility for a range of other projects such as our Careers Hub, the Polypropylene Plant Packaging Recycling (PoPPr) product stewardship program and the Nursery Industry Statistics project.
I would also like to pay tribute to Josh Byrne, who, as reported elsewhere in this newsletter, departs the GIA board after making such an important contribution, especially in the areas of strategy and sustainability. Both Sonya and Josh were wonderful colleagues who made me very welcome when I joined GIA earlier this year. I will miss them both.
Happily, we welcome three new colleagues to our team. Celeste Cook has been appointed as GIA’s first Australian Plant Production Standard (APPS) Program Administrator. Celeste will also be acting as GIA’s new Plant Protection Officer in Tasmania and South Australia. She has previously worked with GIA and is already known and loved by many of you. We are thrilled to welcome Celeste back to the team.
We are delighted that Janelle Dahler has joined GIA as our new Biosecurity Analyst. Janelle specialises in complex data management and analysis, and will be providing a vital support role to the biosecurity team.
Jolene Brown also joins GIA as our new Administration Coordinator. Jolene has had a long successful career in administration working in a range of settings from commercial to not-for-profit. Jolene also has a background in events and will be assisting GIA to plan our next national conference. Jolene will be your first point of contact at GIA – be sure to get in touch and say hello to her!