Now that the 2019 Federal election is complete and the 46th Parliament of Australia is more or less decided, APAL has identified eight key priorities we will be seeking to achieve with the newly-formed Government:
- Establish a National Netting Program
- Introduce an Ag Visa
- Accelerate the Seasonal Worker Programme
- Ensure equitable access to water
- Protect the right to farm
- Pursue tariff and non-tariff barriers
- Introduce a National Labour Hire Scheme
- Improve education for biosecurity risks
The combination of ongoing extreme weather events and less than 40 per cent of apple and pear crops under net, ensures our priority with the new government is the establishment of a National Netting Program.
APAL has been calling on federal and state candidates to support a national scheme to accelerate depreciation for both growers who do not currently have netting and for those who have already invested. For those who have already invested, grower feedback has been that ongoing reinvestment is a reality. In addition to accelerated depreciation, grants, and accessibility to low interest loans will directly assist.
APAL has received positive interest in the program from many candidates. We intend to keep pressure on elected members to pursue these priorities.
On the issue of biosecurity, you will recall we were alerted late last year to the Government’s planned Import Risk Assessment (IRA) of US-apples into Australia. As we await its release (due end of June 2019), and with it the opportunity to lodge a formal submission, I have been pleased by Government’s (DAWR) willingness to listen to and consider interim feedback, including welcoming a pre-draft submission by APAL’s Biosecurity Steering Committee (established in response to this IRA).
Through this interim submission, we have highlighted a number of issues that demand further consideration, in particular changes to the status of certain pests and diseases since the previous 2008 IRA, and the availability of more detailed information around fire blight surveillance and assessment. APAL will alert industry as soon as the draft-IRA is released and advise processes for submitting your own or contributing to APAL’s, response.
Since last quarter, a new direction for the trans-Tasman breeding program, Prevar, has also been announced which will see Australian growers continue to benefit from this breeding pipeline for years to come, without ongoing investment obligations. Importantly, we retain exclusive commercialisation rights to any cultivars released in Australia until 2038, but increase our agility to explore new investment opportunities for industry.
With respect to the marketing levy review, we have made good progress, with Hort Innovation and APAL agreeing to the formation of a Strategic Marketing Panel. The panel, made up of industry, Hort Innovation and Fast Moving Category Goods (FMCG)marketing expertise, is charged with ensuring the marketing levy is invested against a sound marketing strategy, with measurable KPIs and accountability in the process. The next step is recruiting for the panel with the clear mandate to source high quality marketing capability.
Outside the marketing levy, APAL is working to stimulate market demand by investing in retail support for the season launch of Kalei. Unlike other club varieties, Kalei is openly available through registered nurseries, and APAL and variety-owner the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Queensland (QDAF), manage the brand for the benefit of our growers and partners. I encourage growers to contact APAL if they would like to know more about being part of the program.