ABGC directors and senior staff met in Cairns last week for their quarterly board meeting.
A raft of industry issues were discussed over the two days, including;
The Board was updated on latest workforce shortage issues, including ongoing advocacy work being undertaken by Executive Officer Leanne Erakovic.
The meeting heard that increasing competition for workers on farms continues to add pressure on growers already suffering financially and emotionally.
Quarantine capacity and costs continue to remain a nationwide challenge. The total number of SWP/PLS arrivals nationally is around 7000 workers. In Queensland (by 30 June, 2021) a total of 3000 Pacific Labour and Seasonal workers will have arrived in the state under the restarted programs. The ABGC continues to push for the expansion of the SWP/PLS in a more timely manner.
The ABGC has urged the QLD Government to subsidise and increase hotel quarantine capacity to allow a reliable and safe pathway for growers to access workers (especially when on-farm quarantine does not suit the majority of banana growers). It has also continued to lobby for approved Regional Quarantine Facilities.
More growers are opting in to use SWP/PLS workers for the first time and others have started the process themselves to become SWP/PLS Approved Employers.
The Board noted the advocacy undertaken to achieve assistance for growers in the Cassowary Coast affected by Cyclone Niran on 1 March. However, it also noted neither Government was interested in wages assistance to allow impacted growers to retain staff.
The Board also considered the wide-ranging points raised by Innisfail growers at ABGC meetings following the Cyclone.
New South Wales director Stephen Spear gave an update to directors on growers in NSW who continue to recover from the region’s once-in-100-year flood which also struck in March.
Disease prevention in Torres Strait
North Queensland directors Leon Collins and Andrew Serra recently visited islands in the Torres Strait educating locals on disease prevention
Mr Collins spent time in Boigu Island and Mr Serra visited Mer Island, where they both spoke to locals about how they could better protect banana plantations against emergency pests and disease incursions.
The Board resolved to aim to continue the ABGC’s extension role in the Torres Strait to assist the group of islands with future containment and prevention measures.
Industry Strategic Plan
Research and Development Manager Rosie Godwin brought directors up to speed with the continuing development of the ABGC’s Banana Industry Strategic Plan.
The development of the ABGC’s Strategic Plan has involved extensive consultation with growers. The plan will guide industry direction and investment over the next five years. The findings from this work have also been fed into Hort Innovation’s draft Banana Strategic Investment Plan (SIP), which covers only R&D and Marketing matters.
Growers are also reminded to share their thoughts on the Hort Innovation SIP before close of comment on June 4.
· View the draft Banana SIP here
· Fill out the online feedback form here (scroll down)
· Provide feedback directly to the Industry Strategic Partner (Georgia Shiel) via 0487 362 717 or send an email
Directors discussed the successful outcome of the 2021 Congress held in Cairns from May 12-14, attended by 470 delegates, including 140 growers.
It’s time now to ensure we build on this success and make the 2023 Congress even bigger and better! Delegates who attended the 2021 Congress are urged to fill out their post-Congress survey. The survey link has been sent to all delegates via email. Otherwise you can access the survey here
TR4 Industry Transition
Newly appointed ABGC Industry Transition Leader Geoff Wilson joined the board meeting for the first time, outlining his plans to work with industry and government to transition the management of TR4 to an industry-led program by 2023.