This past month has been a challenging time for many members, especially those businesses significantly impacted by recent storms and new COVID-19 lockdowns. In times like these, the role of a strong, well supported and effective industry association is critical in ensuring that businesses can get back on track as quickly as possible.
The recent storms in Victoria caused an incredible amount of damage and heartache to community and businesses, particularly in the Dandenong Ranges, where many leading nurseries and suppliers are located. What is not widely known, is that many of these businesses have only recently got mains power back on after weeks of clearing trees and repair, such was the devastation. During this period, the Nursery & Garden Industry Victoria (NGIV) did a superb job understanding the damage and interruption to members and non-members and then advocating to the Victorian Government where the best support should be applied. In the days following the storm and floods, I personally know of several businesses who received a call from industry colleagues asking if they needed assistance. Many stopped their own work to help their friends, and this is a wonderful example of our industry working together.
Meanwhile further north, New South Wales and specifically Sydney, are battling a crippling outbreak of COVID-19 and an extended shut down of business. While the full extent of this crisis is yet to be fully understood, I know that NGINA will be advocating with the NSW Government on your behalf.
These types of shocks to the industry are not new and, in many cases, can be anticipated. This is the role of a strong, well supported and effective industry association at State and Federal level. In a crisis, you need an industry association that can communicate a solution, not just a problem, and is well known to Government leaders on both sides. Over the years our industry has been blessed with leaders like Bruce Pike, who passed away recently, that made significant contributions to the long-term development of our businesses and have been instrumental in building the industry resilience and teamwork required during a crisis. Much has been written and said about Bruce over the last couple of weeks and our heartfelt sympathies go out to Wendy and his family. I met Bruce when I worked with him on the industry restructure committee that eventually led to the formation of GIA. Bruce was retired, but his passion for a strong and effective national voice boomed around the room on several occasions. Bruce Pike was a natural leader at every level in his life and never stopped contributing. He will be missed.
Where will the next shocks come from and how well are we prepared for them? It could be a biosecurity outbreak, a significant weather event, such a drought or cyclone, or a change in regulation effecting waste, recycling or water management that impacts on businesses. To grow the industry, you need to protect it from the shocks and provide the environment for it to flourish. One of Bruce Pike’s great strengths was he encouraged his key staff, such as David Baker, to support the industry over many years. What we need now is new and emerging leaders, who have formed a view, are passionate about the way forward, and who are invariably the ones we need to pick up the phone to help their industry colleagues. I strongly encourage all businesses owners to consider how they might contribute to a strong and resilient industry. By encouraging a non-industry member to join or making time for one of your team to contribute to a committee or Board, assists us with our planning and builds a stronger voice during a crisis.
In closing, I would like to thank Peter Vaughan for his significant contribution to the industry over the last 6 years. As Chief Executive Officer, Peter was at the centre of a very turbulent, but ultimately successful transition from Nursery & Garden Industry Australia (NGIA) to Greenlife Industry Australia. His resignation takes effect from 30 September 2021, and I will have more to say about his contribution to the organisation in my next message.