Message from the CEO – March 2023

  • Message from the CEO – March 2023 image

Welcome to the March issue of Tendrils! The third month of 2023 has brought with it numerous industry events and the PHA team has had another extremely productive month representing our organisation at biosecurity events, showcasing careers in agriculture and biosecurity at career shows, participating in national committees and developing the draft Annual Operational Plan – to name a few.

ABARES forecasts farm cash income for all broadacre farms to decrease nationally by around 7 per cent to an average of $327,000 per farm in 2022–23 however this will remain 46 per cent above the 10-year average. This is due to lower commodity prices, rising input costs, competition stepping up in global markets, and heavy rainfall and flooding in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. With a fall in commodity prices, ABARES expects production to be lower in 2023–24, at $81 billion – still the third highest on record.

Modelling shows that Australia’s weather patterns could shift this year from three years of above-average rainfall to hotter, drier El Niño conditions later in the year.

New data released by Hort Innovation shows the production value of Australia’s horticulture industry has grown by $6.15 billion over the last decade. In 2021/22, the production value of Australia’s horticulture industry grew to $15.62B, with the total production value of Australian’s horticulture industry growing steadily by $381.3M (2.5 per cent). The data comes as the latest edition of the was released with data and insights on more than 75 different horticulture categories.

Last week I was invited as a special guest to the Invasive Species Council’s ‘Aliens Among Us’ webinar to speak about the threat of imported red fire ants and what’s at stake if we fail to control them. Other speakers included Andrew Cox, CEO of the Invasive Species Council, Christine Milne, Ambassador of the Invasive Species Council, and Tim Low, Author and Biologist at the Invasive Species Council. Register to watch the recorded webinar.

Building a robust company with effective, efficient processes that deliver good governance and management is a key imperative for PHA and one that requires us to attract and retain key staff. Our employer value proposition differentiates us as an employer of choice and as part of this program of activities, PHA staff attended The Big Meet career fairs in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, as well as the Tertiary to Work Careers Fair in Canberra to showcase careers in agriculture and biosecurity to create a talent pipeline for PHA.

A kind reminder that that our AOP webinar is scheduled for Thursday, 30 March from 1 – 2:30 pm. Registration is open to all PHA Members and registration links have been emailed to our Member base.

As a learning organisation focused on staff retention through ongoing career development and professional growth opportunities, I’m pleased to announce the promotion of Jessica Arnold into the newly formed Chief Operating Officer (COO) role. The COO will be responsible for and strategically lead essential corporate functions to deliver efficient and effective business support services and improve business continuity. Jessica is well qualified to take on this new role and has a highly developed executive skillset across public administration, project management and emergency management including leading corporate functions, managing the infrastructure, facilities and major project portfolios and developing of response arrangements under the Northern Territory Emergency Management Act.

I am also pleased to announce the promotion of Dr Lucy-Tran Nguyen in the role of General Manger, Partnerships and Innovation. The GM, Partnerships and Innovation leads the development of cost effective and sustainable national approaches to partnerships and innovation including member engagement, intelligence gathering, project reporting and contribution to national committees. Lucy’s experience stands her in good stead for taking up the GM role. Lucy has extensive experience in plant biosecurity, science, research programs, emergency responses (diagnostics and research), and the development, review and verification of national diagnostic protocols. Since joining PHA, Lucy has led the national plant biosecurity diagnostic and surveillance professional development and national protocols programs, and the high-throughput sequence database project stakeholder consultation.

As we look ahead to April, I look forward to presenting and participating in the National Biosecurity Forum on 5 April to talk about PHA’s integrated digital biosecurity systems and outline how PHA works to strengthen and expand networks locally, regionally, nationally and internationally. If you haven’t already registered, it’s not too late! Online registrations are still open.