Home' Grower : June 2011 Contents The South Australian Grower -- June 2011
No holds barred as Brent
tears into Biosecurity Aust
By ASHLEY WALMSLEY
AUSVEG chairman John
Brent gave a two word char-
acter assessment of the
national biosecurity watchdog:
He took to Biosecurity Australia
with a 'sledgehammer' during his
opening address to the 2011
National Convention and Trade
Show in Brisbane.
After detailing the national veg-
etable organisation's renewed
vigour to further grower interests,
Mr Brent's speech took a sharp turn
as he lined up the Federal
Government and its stance on pests
and diseases. He pointed to the
potentially-devastating zebra chip
vir us entering Australia if fresh New
Zealand potatoes were accepted.
"As yet, our concerns and those
expressed by experts in the industry
have fallen on deaf ears within
Biosecurity Australia," Mr Brent said.
"There is a general arrogance dis-
played by that organisation.
"It seems like absolute lunacy to
me to even be considering taking
this risk and yet we are informed by
Biosecurity Australia that it is effec-
tively a done deal.
"All I can say is: not if we can help
Convention delegates were hand-
ed bright yellow t-shirts embla-
zoned with 'Don't take the risk -- no
New Zealand potato imports' as
part of the awareness campaign.
Mr Brent said Biosecurity Australia
appeared to have a policy of "throw-
ing the doors open" to any produce
from other countries without under-
standing the on-ground effects
caused by such decisions.
The Australian Quarantine
Inspection Ser vice also copped a
spray from Mr Brent, who accused
it of inspecting only 5 per cent of
imported fresh produce for chemi-
cal residue violations, and only for
chemicals which are permitted for
use within Australia.
vegetables from China into King
George Square today, and asked peo-
ple passing by to eat it, they would
be a bit wary if they knew there was
only a 5pc cent chance the crate had
been tested for dangerous chemical
residues," he said. Australians would
buy homegrown products if they
could clearly identify them.
Mr Brent alluded to concerns of
import deception where vegetables
were shipped to New Zealand, then
repackaged and sent to Australia
without consumer awareness.
Despite having Federal Agriculture
Minister Joe Ludwig scheduled as
the guest speaker for the following
night's Awards of Excellence dinner,
he did not hesitate in taking a bat to
"It would be good if we were trad-
ing on a level playing field, but in
the interest of being the world lead-
ers on doing the right thing, gov-
ernment negotiators have entered
into deals where it is free to come
in. But, in many cases, Australian
growers are still hit with a tariff to
export. What a joke," he said.
"And when you question these
government departments about the
inequality of level playing fields they
have created, they tell you that it
isn't their job to create a level play-
"Well let me say this to you now -- it's
time that someone had a word to
these government agencies as they
have lost touch with the industries
they are regulating and the people
Elders boss cites shortage
of expertise big challenge
AUSTRALIA is undercooking agricultural expertise, according to
Elders chief executive officer Malcolm Jackman.
Dressed in the traditional red short-sleeved shirt and jeans, he
addressed delegates on the first day of the AUSVEG 2011 National
Convention, providing some candid comments on various issues
facing rural Australia.
He said Australia produced about 800 graduates focused on
agriculture, while there was a demand for about 6000 each year.
He said this was prompting major agricultural companies to
consider where their talent would come from.
"I think you will see the emergence of a significant immigration
program to support agriculture and horticulture in Australia because
we are certainly not producing enough in Australia to support the
industry as it grows and goes forward from there," Mr Jackman said.
He also touched on the Murray Darling Basin issue, labelling last
year's MDB Plan an "absolute disgrace".
"We have concerns that when the plan comes out, it will be a
political compromise -- that everybody will end up being the least
happy that we can be, rather than everybody being satisfied," Mr
Elders was one the major sponsors of the convention, trade show
and Awards of Excellence.
Some 30 Elders staff attended the three-day conference.
Mr Jackman reinforced Elders' commitment to horticulture, but
said a major challenge to the organisation was the supply chain.
"Currently the suppliers which support us, which are all the big
players, have a DEFOT (delivered in full on time) of about 50 per cent,
which is actually quite amazingly poor," he said.
"When the major supermarkets demand something north of 98 per
cent, and yet the people who support the producer can only get it
around 55pc then you see some of the challenges that the rural
services companies, such as Elders, face in the market as we go
- ASHLEY WALMSLEY
National Convention huge success with support from growers, agribusiness
I AM proud to report that the 2011
AUSVEG National Convention, trade
show and awards for excellence at
Brisbane's Sebel-Citigate was a major
The convention capitalised on the
momentum created by the inaugural
2010 event with final delegate numbers
nearing 1000, confirming its status as
the annual highlight on the horticulture
The convention brought together local
and international growers, researchers
and supply chain representatives from the
vegetable, fresh and processed potato,
organic, hydroponic and Asian vegetable
The 2011 Awards for Excellence Gala
Dinner was a highlight, with more than
The awards showcased industry
success and rewarded nominees for
their excellence throughout the year.
The Innovative Marketing Award was
presented to Darren Mitolo,
representing South Australia's Mitolo
Group. The award recognises
individuals or businesses that have
created an innovative marketing
solution, process or program.
The Mitolo Group received the award
for the development of the world's first
low GI potato -- the Carisma.
Personal congratulations are in order
for such an outstanding achievement.
Agriculture Minister Senator Joe Ludwig
was keynote speaker at the awards with
Sen Bill Heffernan, Sen Suzanne Boyce
and Sen Ron Boswell also in attendance.
I was pleased to welcome Opposition
Leader Tony Abbott to the Brisbane
Produce Markets Breakfast and give
him a tour through the impressive trade
show before he delivered an address to
growers. Senator Barnaby Joyce also
addressed growers before engaging
with exhibitors at the trade show, which
featured 70 exhibitors from the entire
spectrum of the horticulture industry.
The show was sold out months before
the convention, highlighting the
vegetable and potato industries' desire
to contribute to this important event.
As one of our board members said,
having two successive "excellent"
conventions is as rare as a grower
having two consecutive bumper yields.
-- Richard Mulcahy,
chief executive officer,
Expert advice falls on deaf
Testing protocols fail con-
Level playing field a myth
AT A GLANCE
Our concerns and those
expressed by experts in the
industry have fallen on deaf
ears within Biosecurity
-- John Brent
Elders CEO Malcolm
Jackman says major
companies will look
elsewhere if they
John Brent says
appears to have a
policy of "throwing
the doors open".
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