Former Australian Banana Growers’ Council (ABGC) chair Doug Phillips received the highest accolade from the Australian banana industry during the 2017 Congress Banana Ball.
Mr Phillips was the sole recipient of the ABGC Award of Honour, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to the industry during his six years on the ABGC board, five of those as Chair.
Sitting ABGC Chair Stephen Lowe presented Mr Phillips with his award, thanking his predecessor for his dedication and service to the industry at large.
Mr Lowe noted that during Mr Phillips’ time on the ABGC board there had been many industry challenges including Banana Freckle, banana prices, concerns about water quality to the Great Barrier Reef, severe weather events, the review of Horticulture Australia Limited (HAL) and the need for a national horticultural advocacy body.
However, he said, arguably the greatest challenge had been the detection of Panama TR4 on a property in Tully in March 2015.
“Doug’s strong leadership in the months and years that followed the initial detection – against a wave of industry uncertainly and fear – was unwavering to say the least,” Mr Lowe said.
“As well as addressing constant media requests, Doug ensured industry was always well informed, he consistently liaised with Biosecurity Queensland, senior government officials and scientists in the effort to contain TR4, and made successful submissions to government for assistance and grants.”
Another significant achievement for the former Chair was his role in establishing an emergency plant pest response (EPPR) levy in July 2013, to fund an eradication program for Banana Freckle in the Northern Territory.