We all love the Christmas break but it just seems to go so quickly. One minute we are having staff drinks then it is Australia Day. What used to be just another excuse for a holiday has become a time to focus on our amazing country and what makes living here so good. With Australia day breakfasts and lunches in towns and communities all over the country then Aussie BBQ’s in the backyard, the park and on the beaches it is a great day to enjoy the good times.
2016 has started well with less than the normal number of major fires and relatively mild weather in most states. Retail plants sales have been good and autumn looks promising.
There are many positives about our relaxed lifestyle but there is one negative that comes to the front any time we have a public holiday on a Tuesday or Thursday. That is the Australian love of a ‘sickie’. It is so prevalent that the media talks about it, the government costs it out and small employers struggle to deal with it. It all sounds like a bit of good old Aussie fun but it costs the country a fortune in lost wages and lost productivity. Sure it is fine for the ‘lads’ to take Monday off for a long weekend but can we afford it?
The large unionised work forces factor it in to their EBA’s so that they can at least plan for it. Other big companies give it as an extra public holiday, again so that they can plan around the stoppage. Still it is another cost that comes through in higher prices or pressures on profit margins. On its own it is only a minor cost but there are too many ‘sickies’ each year to ignore the cost.
The bigger problem is all the small businesses where owners, also hard working Australians, have to put in the extra hours to cover those that don’t turn up. They are already pushed with the public holiday and the extra costs that generates without the non-show of key staff. Industries like ours have the extra issue that our plants don’t care if it is a Public Holiday they still need watering. Also for many wholesale nurseries, transport companies etc losing a day of despatch puts a lot of pressure on the other four days and when staff don’t turn up due to a ‘sickie’ it just makes it harder for everyone.
It is time the country wakes up to the fact that we can’t just keep adding on imposts on to the employers. As a workforce we already have some of the best conditions in the world and we need to protect these by ensuring small businesses can keep going. It is time we gave the employers a fair go.
As Australia Day rolls by we are in full planning for our herb and Chilli Festival. In its fifth year the organisation becomes easier but the numbers are increasing so we have to be aware of how to manage them. Of course we now start looking at the long term weather predictions. I am not sure why as not once has it been correct in the four years. Indeed I now hope tit predicts rain as that means it probably won’t.
Some of the early talk was about the down turn in China but I suspect it was just a slow down as they are still growing at 6.9%. It is said this will slow our economy down and this maybe the case but for the nursery industry I think we will be okay. We still have high numbers of immigration and a positive birth rate meaning there is still an ongoing demand for houses. This is accompanied by new shopping centres, new industrial estates and so –on.
All these developments will require more plants so 2016 should be another good year for horticulture. We need to make sure we have the plants on the ground. The challenge is to predict what the fashions will be. Over the last year we have seen the full range of plant styles so I wonder what 2016/7 will bring. It is time to get your late autumn/winter plants on the ground to make sure we all benefit from a high plant demand.
I hope you had a great Australia Day and summer finishes well for you.