PHA Board meets in South Australia

October 10, 2019

The PHA Board met in Adelaide on 5 September 2019 for Board Meeting 95. Before the meeting, Board members did a two-day field visit to relevant sites in South Australia.

Day 1 – SITPlus and Sundrop Farms

The Board spent the first day of their field visit (Tuesday, 3 September) at Port Augusta where they visited the new SITPlus facility. Terril Marais, National SIT Facility Manager, explained the operation of the facility and use of sterile insects to assist with Queensland fruit fly management.

Later that day the Board visited Sundrop Farms, a protected cropping business producing truss tomatoes. During their visit, Sundrop Farms CEO, Steve Marafiote, led the Board through the company’s history and growing program with a focus on the use of innovative technologies and pest and disease management. Dr Ross Meffin, General Manager, Plant and Food Standards from PIRSA, accompanied the Board on the visit.

Day 2 – Pikes Vineyard and Australian Grain Technologies

The second day of the field visit (Wednesday, 4 September) started in Clare at Pikes Vineyard, where Vinehealth Australia Technical Manager, Suzanne McLoughlin, took the Board through an overview of vineyard biosecurity. Andrew Pike later discussed how Pikes Vineyard manages a range of biosecurity risks.

The final stop on the field visit was Australian Grain Technologies at Roseworthy, arguably one of the world’s leading plant breeding facilities. Dr Haydn Kuchel, CEO and Head of Breeding, explained their breeding process, innovations and approach to dealing with biosecurity threats.

Day 3 – Board meeting 95

On Thursday, 5 September, Board meeting 95 was held in Adelaide. While there, the Board also took the opportunity to engage with Tony Battaglene and Anna Hooper from Australian Grape and Wine and Trevor Ranford who currently represents summerfruit, chestnut, pistachio and hazelnut industries.

Strategy

As with all Board meetings, the focus was on strategy. At the meeting the Board considered changes to PHA’s strategic environment and reviewed the outcomes of its strategy workshop held in July in Canberra and key strategic projects including the AGSOC RD&E strategy, the National Fruit Fly Strategy, implementation of the National Plant Biosecurity Strategy, and AUSPestCheck™.

Finance

At the meeting, the Board approved the end of financial year accounts for 2018–19, noting that the company had received an unqualified audit from its external auditor, EY.

Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed

The Board also reviewed Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed management and compliance and was pleased to note that PHA has been fully compliant since the last Board meeting. The Board discussed categorisation of brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) and noted that the Relevant Parties for BMSB did not present a unanimous view on an EPP category or recommended Funding Weights.

CEO selection process

With our current Executive Director and CEO leaving PHA in July 2020, the company has engaged a recruitment company, Rimfire Resources, to assist the Board in identifying a new CEO. It is anticipated that advertising will start in mid-October 2019. A CEO Selection and Interview Committee was formed.

Board selection process

The 2019 Board selection process is running. Short listing has been completed with interviews planned for early October. The Chairman took the opportunity to acknowledge outgoing Director Mr Malcolm Finlayson for his contributions over his terms as a Director of PHA and Chair of the Finance and Audit Committee.

Future meetings

The Board confirmed its meeting schedule to the end of 2020 and resolved to hold the 19th Annual General Meeting of Plant Health Australia Limited on Tuesday, 19 November 2019. At this meeting, a range of proposed amendments to the PHA Constitution will be put forward for approval.

 

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