Board update – meetings 97 and 98


Board meeting 97

Plant Health Australia (PHA) held its 97th Board meeting in Sydney on Wednesday 26 February 2020. The following day the Board visited the Clyde International Mail Centre which was very well supported by staff from the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

Standing Items on the Board’s agenda included consideration of changes to our strategic environment, updates and discussions relating to key strategic projects including the AGSOC RD&E strategy, the National Fruit Fly Strategy, implementation of the National Plant Biosecurity Strategy and AUSPestCheck™.

PHA is continuing to engage with members and stakeholders in the revision of the plant diagnostic and surveillance strategies. We are also developing a new preparedness strategy. These three strategies will input into the review and update of the National Plant Biosecurity Strategy, which is planned to be presented to members at the 2020 Annual General Meeting (AGM). These activities will also support the development of PHA’s 2021–26 Strategic Plan, due for completion by the 2021 AGM.

The process to identify a replacement for the outgoing Executive Director and CEO, Greg Fraser, is progressing with completion of negotiations expected by the end of March.

The Board reviewed year-to-date financials and continued to note the potential impact of drought on levy income. The financial forecast at the end of December was for a significant improvement over budget, with a surplus of approximately $40,000, some $60,000 ahead of budget.

The Board reviewed the categorisation of brown marmorated stink bug. A decision was made after considerable discussion, which will be communicated to Relevant Parties.

The Board also approved the release of the 2019–20 Mid-year Performance Report.

Board meeting 98

Following global disruption and the issue of a number of government guidelines relating to COVID -19, the PHA Board met by teleconference on Monday 23 March for Board Meeting 98. During the teleconference the Board reconfirmed their focus on the health and wellbeing of staff, and the need to support members. The PHA office remains open, with staff offered the flexibility of working from home or the office.

All face-to-face meetings and travel have been cancelled from 13 March. This has impacted some major workshops including for spotted wing drosophila, the diagnosticians’ network, and the Annual Surveillance Workshop. Others have been postponed: in the first instance to later in the year, after August, or into 2021.

We are actively engaging our project partners to adjust milestones where appropriate. Some of our contracted deliverables will need to be delayed or changed.

The Board discussed the General Meeting and associated meetings in May 2020, originally planned for Melbourne. These will now not occur face-to-face. The General Meeting will probably be moved to a webinar format. Further details will be circulated soon. The EPPRD Signatories meeting planned for Tuesday 26 May has been cancelled. The Emergency Response team will circulate an updated program of activities soon.