Having felt the buzz at several key events and watching as a new Federal Ministry was announced over the last fortnight, I can really sense that our industry is refreshing and resetting as we enter the new normal post-COVID. These are exciting times for our greenlife industry, and I will ensure that Greenlife Industry Australia (GIA) makes the most of the opportunities presented to us to advocate on your behalf in the coming months.
It was a great pleasure to attend the Nursery & Garden Industry South Australia (NGISA) annual Gala Dinner, held again this year on 4 June after a COVID-19 hiatus. Established in 1908, NGISA is one of Australia’s most venerable associations. Its long-established annual Gala Dinner is enthusiastically supported and well-attended by South Australian association members. The event is also the occasion for the announcement of the state Awards of Excellence and this year’s nominees and winners alike were evidently delighted to be honoured by their peers. The atmosphere in the room was one of warmth and optimism amongst people who universally regard their work as so much more than a job. It was a very special occasion, and I was honoured to bear witness to it.
Another keystone event in the Australian horticulture calendar is Hort Connections, which was presented in Brisbane again this year. Attending for the first time, I found myself deeply impressed by the scale and professionalism of the conference and trade show. Sustainable innovation featured throughout the program and there was a lot of focus on how the growers of Australia’s food might harness new technology in their business models to meet the future. GIA's team of Plant Protection Officers were also in attendance, and you can find a summary of their event highlights, including new technologies and industry insights, in this edition of the eNews: Highlights from Hort Connections 2022.
The conference also provided an opportunity for industry to hear from the newly appointed Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator the Hon Murray Watt, whose portfolio also includes emergency management. The appointment is a promotion for Senator Watt who has embraced the opportunity energetically and is signalling a strong interest in biosecurity, action on climate change and employment in the regions. Other key ministerial appointments announced by the Albanese government include:
Climate Change & Energy: The Hon Chris Bowen MP
Employment & Trade Relations: The Hon Tony Burke MP
Environment & Water: The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP
Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development & Local Government: The Hon Catherine King MP
Skills & Training: The Hon Brendan O’Connor MP
It is early days; however, the new Ministry provides some clues to the Government’s likely priorities. The creation of a new super department, the Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water combined with the division of these two portfolios between long-time Labor shadow Ministers Bowen and Plibersek, suggest the new Prime Minister will be focussing strongly on these subjects. I know from your correspondence and comments that you will be keen to hear what is proposed and Greenlife Industry Australia (GIA) will be keeping you closely informed. Meanwhile, please get in touch and let me know what changes you would like to see.
Change is also in the air at Hort Innovation Australia (HIA). In 2021, HIA publicly stated its intention to ‘reset and refresh’ its relationships with the industry generally and with peak industry bodies specifically. More recently, in something of a surprising development, HIA has announced its intention to offer each sector the opportunity to re-design its advice mechanism - in other words, the process by which industry influences the research and development projects that are part-funded by the nursery levy.
There will be rules and parameters of course. However, this has the potential to represent a significant change in how the investment of levy funds is informed or not, depending on the choices made. The exploration of various advice mechanism models and ideas has just commenced, and no decisions have yet been made. It is envisaged that whilst some sectors may choose to maintain their existing advice mechanism, such as their Strategic Investment Advisory Panel (SIAP), others might opt to adopt a different approach.
GIA is one of the four peak industry bodies appointed to an industry working group, the purpose of which is to help inform this process. The working group is hosting a series of workshops next month (June 14 & 15) to enable other peak industry bodies to discuss options. More information is available on the Hort Innovation website.
Meanwhile, as this process unfolds, I would love to hear your ideas about how the advice mechanism might work in the future. Please get in touch with me via e-mail: Jo.Cave@greenlifeindustry.com.au or mobile: 0468 368 961.