NGIA CEO update – 22 December 2017

Hi Everyone

Welcome to the last NNN Newsletter for 2017.  It has been another “quick” year that I hope has been prosperous for you personally and your business.  NGIA has again worked on a range of issues to deliver our strategic vision – “We will create a climate for our members and industry to grow and prosper.”

I would like to highlight and update you on a number of key issues and activities from this year and what is planned in 2018.

1.    NGIA Conference – 19-21 February 2018

Every two years we have the opportunity to meet as a national organisation to learn, discuss, debate, network and socialise. The conference is on in Hobart in February and we would like as many members as possible to attend, in particular to hear about the future structure of the association and to have your say on it. So even if you are thinking of attending, then please register as soon as possible, to contribute to this being a significant and memorable event for the industry.

2.     NGI Network Structure Review

As advised previously there was a joint session of the NGIA Board, the Presidents and CEOs of the State Associations and the members of the Structural Change Advisory Committee (SCAC) for the delivery and presentation of the SCAC report in November.

The key action from that meeting was to develop a two-page summary of the report for members.  Included in the separate structure review article in the newsletter is the two-page document.  Please review and advise any comments or questions you would like addressed.

While the summary provides high level information on protecting industry heritage, elements of the new entity and the steps to transition, I have been working closely with the State Associations to ensure additional information and clarity is provided against the five following issues:

A.        Services and benefits to members

Depending on the income and resources available to the new entity, the most important services identified by members to be delivered are:

o  Technical and business support
o  Communication and feedback
o  Networking
o  Biosecurity – awareness, preparedness and market access
o  Marketing and promotion of greenlife
o  Education, Training and development
o  Business accreditation
o  Shaping government policy and opinion

The SCAC also identified a number of new services that could be delivered to members and generate revenue for the new entity:

o  Online Training Academy – as a spin-off of the education, training and development
o  Central Billing Service
o  Industry Job Board (and general career development)
o  Professional services – accounting, legal, IT, HR, WHS, consulting

B.        Structure and Governance around the single industry organisation

The new single entity is proposed to have three levels:

1.    Governance– Board
Purpose– Strategic direction and governance for industry

2.    Advisory– Council
Purpose– To advise the Board on a range of priorities and issues

3.    Management, Administration, Operations– Central office and regional management
Purpose– To manage the operations of the association and deliver value to members

C.        Financial model, including membership levels
This has been the most challenging part of the structure review process as we have been trying to demonstrate the efficiencies that will be obtained by going from seven organisations (NGIA and 6 State NGI Associations) to one single entity.  The seven organisations all operate in unique ways and it is hard to compare and consolidate income and expenditure.

Another challenge has been to estimate the income for the association going forward.  A financial model has been built around three sources of income – (i) membership, (ii) corporate partnership (sponsors) and (iii) external funding (projects, fee for service, grants).  Member income alone will not sustain the organisation to deliver all the services highlighted by members.  The establishment of the new entity will provide opportunities for partnership and sponsorship of events, publication and activities.

NGIA is working with the State Associations to finalise a financial model.  The States have been requested to provide details on membership levels and fees to be agreed upon and used in a national model.  The levels and fees will be worked into a model to be discussed at the next meeting on 30 January for presentation at the NGIA Conference in February.

D.        The regions and how resourced and managed

One way to demonstrate the efficiencies of a single entity is to compare the current and propose staffing requirements. Currently there are 26 staff full time equivalents (FTEs) across NGIA and the State Associations.  The 26 FTEs are made up of full and part time staff funded by member income, projects and sponsorship.

The proposed staffing numbers in the new organisation are to be around 20 made up of:

Chief Executive Officer
Finance Manager
Advocacy, Policy and Development Officer
Accreditation administrator
2 x Education and Training and Events
5 x Regional Managers
3 x Technical Managers
3 x Biosecurity

It is proposed to have four regions based on a pro-rata spread of existing NGI members – North (QLD), Eastern (NSW), Southern (Vic/Tas) and Central West (NT, SA, WA).  It is proposed to have at least two staff per region being regional and technical managers.  To cover the vast area of the Central West, there could be two regional managers (WA and SA), that would require a level of technical expertise.

E.        Preservation of the State NGI Heritage, Assets and Events

Our industry is steeped in history and each organisation has State and Branch owned historical records, assets and events that will require surety and protection.  This can be achieved via an active independent committee, historical trust or other separate entity as each State or Branch deems necessary.  In this way, State and Branches events and significant financial investments will be protected for future beneficiaries. Examples of likely protected assets include MIFGS, Qld Garden Expo and the NSW investment.

A new national entity and each States’ heritage structure will be entirely separate. They will not be financially or legally connected but could engage in fee for service arrangements.

Two important messages from the SCAC and contained in the report are:

“The Committee sees the revised Unity Model as an opportunity for the industry to increase the level of technical support to members by converting waste and duplication into more on-ground technical support.”; and

“The Committee has been very mindful of preserving the assets, heritage and events that have been built over many years and at the same time building a model that will deliver increased member benefits into the future.  The potential to transition successful elements from each state across Australia was a major opportunity for our industry.  To achieve the unity model requires a coordinated “whole of industry” approach.”

The steps to transition

The process of transition happens in two stages. Frist, Members must vote to change the National constitution based on the question – “As a member of NGIA do you support the new structural arrangements – Yes or No?”.  Second, each State Association would finalise its own business including a decision around a Heritage structure.  In the instance of a positive move towards transition, it is anticipated the process will conclude by October 2018.

NGIA will continue to work closely and consult with the State NGI Associations on the structure review process, so they are comfortable with the activities being undertaken, and to ensure they can address any concerns or issues raised by you.

3.     Nursery Industry Biosecurity Program

The National Nursery Industry Biosecurity Program (NY15004) has been progressing strongly in 2017 with the following key issues and areas being addressed:

·       The Tomato potato psyllid (TPP) incursion in WA at the beginning of 2017.
·       15 new plant pest incursions plus managing 18 previous carry-over incursions and involvement in six ongoing eradication and/or Response Plans across Australia including TPP, Red Imported Fire Ant, Giant Pine Scale, Banana Freckle, Chestnut Blight and Electric Ant.
·       The BioSecure HACCP program has achieved legal operating status in Qld, NSW, VIC, TAS, SA and the project has opened intensive negotiations with NT and WA.
·       NGIA has almost gained recognition as an approved biosecurity scheme operator and having BioSecure HACCP approved as a biosecurity scheme under the Queensland Biosecurity Act 2014 Working with NSW to achieve the same status as Queensland for NGIA and BioSecure HACCP in 2018 under the Biosecurity Act 2015.
·       Progressed engagement across other horticulture sectors including bananas and avocados to have their nursery schemes transitioned into the Nursery Production FMS.
·       Working with other horticulture sectors in moving existing certification programs into the Nursery Production FMS in 2018.
·       Steve Blyth has been appointed in WA as a Biosecurity Certification Officer and commenced on 4 December 2017 (refer article in the NNN newsletter).

John McDonald and I attended the Plant Health Australia (PHA) convened Tomato Potato Psyllid (TPP) debrief in Perth on 5 and 6 December.  The purpose of the debrief was to identify and capture findings of what went well and opportunities for improvement in respect of the national response to the Bactericera cockerelli(TPP) incident in Western Australia.  The topics covered in the debrief were:

Overview of the response – A WA Department perspective
Local industry engagement and debrief – Nursery growers and NGIWA representatives attended and provide their feedback
Industry/Government partnership – decision making, response strategy, capability/capacity/resourcing
Cost sharing and funding the response
Owner reimbursement costs
Communication/Public information
Debrief summary and discussion

A final report from the debrief documenting the participant’s observations and findings will be written by PHA and provided to all Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (EPPRD) signatories prior to 30 April 2018.  Further discussion on how to address the findings and the appropriate actions to take will occur with all government and industry EPPRD parties at the May 2018 EPPRD meeting.

A meeting of NGIA, AusVeg, Australian Process Tomatoes, and NSW/Vic/SA DPI representations was conducted after the debrief to discuss preparing for if TPP is found in Qld, NSW, Vic or SA.  This is a proactive step to ensure that industry and government is prepared if an incursion does occur.  John and I have briefed the State NGIs on this activity.

4.     Nursery Industry Statistics and Research Project

This project has been completed and the final milestone report submitted (refer separate article in newsletter).  Top line results are:

·      Number of businesses: 1777
·      Volume of products sold: 1.618 billion plants sold
·      Farm gate value of greenlife: $2.886 billion
·      Production Area: Outdoor 6,229 ha; Indoor 1,273ha
·      Employees: 27,000 (19,000 FTE)

(For the statisticians amongst the industry the results are at the 95% confidence level ±5.7%)

NGIA will submit a proposal to Hort Innovation for the continuation of this project for multiple years, so year on year data can be obtained, to build a more accurate picture and profile of the industry.

5.     202020 Vision – Plant Life Balance (PLB)

As you are aware (or should be aware) 202020 Vision is the nursery marketing levy funded program to “grow the pie” or increase demand for the nursery industry products.  It focuses on four key audiences that own and control land that trees, plants and shrubs are planted or placed and managed:

·       Government – National, State, Local
·       Business – residential, retail, commercial and industrial sites being built, developed and redesigned by developers, landscapers (architects, designers, contractors)
·       Community – including schools, parks and other community sites and activities
·       Consumer – all residential across urban, rural and coastal

As you are aware the program is focussing on the consumer audience at the moment through the Plant Life Balance (PLB) campaign.  The PLB campaign was released on 30 October with advertising and promotional material, use of Jamie Durie as an ambassador, media activities through traditional and social media and an app (now with around 23,000 downloads).  The difficult thing to measure will be the impact on sales of the campaign.  For the first half of 2018 PLB will be support through additional social media content development and advertising, community management, PR and ambassador fees, engagement with retailers, creating new looks and media.

For the other three audiences of the 20V Program the program will include engagement with Governments and Business, maximise the “results and outcomes” from the Where Should All the Trees Go project (which was a follow up analysis of urban canopy cover in Australia from Where are all the trees), maintain LinkedIn momentum and communicate with the database with regular e-newsletters.

The 20V Program has been going for four years now and is being reviewed to determine how to manage the last three years to the end of 2020 and then transition to the next period of marketing.

6.     Christmas and Festive Season

On behalf of the NGIA Board and Staff, I would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a safe and enjoy festive season. Also, if you have the opportunity for a break, I hope you recharge in preparation for what will be another interesting year for the industry.

I would again like to express appreciation and thanks, on your, industry stakeholders and NGI staff behalf, for the six years of service, effort and contribution to the NGIA Board by Mike Mehigan, Simon Smith and Colin Groom.

As usual, please contact me at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or concerns on the operation of NGIA and this edition of the NNN email.

Kind regards,
Peter Vaughan