PHA Board Meeting 113 Communique

  • PHA Board Meeting 113 Communique image

At the end of November each year Plant Health Australia (PHA) hosts members over two days to facilitate and deliver industry and government engagement on biosecurity priorities in person and online.  

This year the 2nd Government Members Forum, the 36th Plant Industry Forum, the 23rd Annual General Meeting (AGM), the 13th PHA Members Forum and the 38th Emergency Plant Pest Response Deed (EPPRD) Signatories Meeting were held 28-29 November 2023. Over the two days PHA hosted discussions on the public consultation on the draft agricultural levies, the National Biosecurity Implementation Plan, Plant Property Identification Codes, presented on our digital systems that provide critical national infrastructure to support industry and government data sharing opportunities, network coordination of diagnostics specialists and surveillance practitioners, bee biosecurity and why it is more important than ever, and forest biosecurity and how the launch of the unique ForestWatch program is an evolution of how surveillance projects that span across government, industry and community, are critical to how biosecurity activities delivered in collaboration are the future.  

At the EPPRD Signatories meeting, the change in representation for the Onions industry following the merging of Onions Australia and AUSVEG Ltd was voted on and endorsed by signatories.  

Departure of Board Chair Mr Steve McCutcheon 

At the 23rd AGM on 28 November 2023, outgoing Director Mr Steve McCutcheon delivered his final address as Board Chair after six years in the position and serving eight years in total. He took the opportunity to note several key highlights during his time as Chair of the Board, including: 

  • welcoming the Australian Tea Tree Industry Association as our 29th Industry Member  
  • securing additional EPPRD signatories  
  • receiving funding for the National Fruit Fly Council  
  • raising awareness of the importance of plant health to a wider group of stakeholders through the International Year of Plant Health  
  • sponsoring the inaugural Farm Biosecurity Producer of the Year Award  
  • publishing the Australian Handbook for the Identification of Fruit Flies and companion website  
  • celebrating 21 years of PHA  
  • releasing PHA’s 2022-2027 strategic plan.  

Mr McCutcheon also thanked outgoing Directors Dr Joanne Daly and Mr Robert Prince both having served two four year terms on the Board, acknowledged the excellent work of PHA CEO Sarah Corcoran, and thanked all PHA members for their continued partnership and commitment to improving plant biosecurity for the economy, environment and community. 

Mr McCutcheon’s address was shortly followed by the unanimous appointment by members of three new Board Directors: Ms Ros Baker, Mr Jolyon Burnett and Dr Ron Glanville. Ms Kathy Kelly was re-appointed to a second term and Dr Jeremy Burdon was appointed by the board for two years, following the resignation of Prof Simon McKirdy in September. 

Appointment of new Chair of the PHA Board  

With the departure of three longstanding Board Directors, Board Meeting (BM) 113, held 30 November 2023, marked important changes in the makeup of the PHA Board and its two committees. 

Following deliberations at the commencement of BM113, the board unanimously resolved to appoint Mr Kim Halbert to the position of Chair of the PHA Board for a term of two years, and Mr Doug Phillips to the position of Deputy Chair for a term of one year.  

Ms Kathy Kelly was re-appointed as Chair of the Finance & Audit Committee (F&AC), and Ms Baker, Dr Burdon, and Ms Susan Petrellis were appointed as members of the F&AC. Mr Burnett and Dr Ron Glanville were appointed as members of the People & Culture Committee, chaired by Mr Halbert and including Mr Phillips. 

Special thanks were again given to outgoing Directors Mr Steve McCutcheon, Mr Robert Prince and Dr Joanne Daly for their service to the Board and PHA, and especially Mr McCutcheon for his service as Chair. 

Board Meeting 113 report 

All Directors were delighted to attend and meet with members and stakeholders at the AGM and Members Forum held over the two days prior to BM113, and to hear from PHA staff regarding the many varied projects currently under way. 

At BM113, the Board also met with Canberra-based staff in the PHA Office over lunch, better acquainting themselves with the diverse team who underpin the work of PHA. 

Also in attendance at BM113 by invitation of the Board were PHA’s Chief Executive Officer Ms Sarah Corcoran, National Manager (Marketing & Communications) Ms Amanda Yong, General Manager (Emergency Response) Dr Susanna Driessen, Acting Chief Financial Officer Ms Somania Dahal, and Chief Operating Officer Ms Jessica Arnold. 

During BM113, the Board’s discussion of matters of special importance to the company and its Members included: 

  • Congratulations on the successful meetings and engaging presentations form PHA Members and staff at the preceding meetings 
  • Discussion of the Varroa destructor debrief on 27 November 2023, at which the deliberations produced excellent results that the PHA team will draft into a report  
  • Discussion of the Biosecurity Protection Levy, including members’ and PHA’s concerns about potential impacts on funding arrangements  
  • Discussion and review of the PHA Values Campaign, including key elements of its process and execution such as attention to authenticity, cultural activities and employee recognition; and 
  • Other ordinary business, including discussion of the latest F&AC report, discussion of optimal financial management system arrangements, review and approval of the Corporate Risk Register, and review and approval of the Workplace Health and Safety Metrics report. 

Following BM113, newly appointed Directors participated in a half-day induction on 1 December 2023, covering personal administration, corporate governance, corporate strategy and reporting, internal governance, finances and budgeting, member value proposition, the PHA and Emergency Plant Pest Response Levies, people and culture, ICT, and the EPPRD. 

The PHA Board look forward to meeting with Victoria-based government and industry members early in the new year, when BM 114 is held in Melbourne, in February 2024.