Middle of Spring, which is an exciting month in Melbourne, - Grand Final to start October and Melbourne Cup Carnival to conclude. As I have said before Melbourne weather seems to have a seven day cycle and it looks like this year the cool change is coming through on the Monday afternoon giving us warm clear weekends. This should result in great plant sales.
Di and I are going to USA in October as part of the IPPS international Tour of Lousianna, Missippi, Alabama and Florida. These tours are always informative from both the nurseries visited and the people on the tour. Will be a bit different this year as these are sub tropical states but we can always learn. Before returning we will be visiting some lavender farms in Oregon to see what they are doing and what varieties they are using. As usual I am sure we will see lots of great plants and will be bringing a few back with us. It is getting harder to bring new plants in as DAFF Biosecurity keeps tightening the rules and banning more and more plants. Whole genera of common plants are now banned – as seed, TC and plants.
We all understand and accept the need for strict importation rules but they should be workable. We used to bring in new cultivars of chillis every year but now the seed and plants are banned without expensive disease screening and indexation. We, the professional, are restricted by these rules but home growers are forever importing seeds through the internet or by simply brining them in when they come home to Australia.
The department has rationalised its structure and will soon only have one quarantine station. This is booked up for 12 months meaning it is hard and costly to bring in high risk plants – if you can get space. Granted they have improved some aspects of their processes making life a bit easier. Electronic lodgement of permit applications is quick and easy (but at $185 a little expensive) and the ICON database for checking conditions on plant imports is very useful. Booking inspections is all by email which is good when it works but they won’t do them by phone, fax or real mail making it hard if the email isn’t working. Like most large organisations they are making it harder to actually speak to someone – and really hard to talk to the person you need to talk to.
Leaving the nursery for three weeks is always stressful – no matter how well organised you are. Getting everything set up and the desk cleared is a big job and makes you look forward to the actual leaving. Then whilst you are away you are always wondering if all the equipment is working properly, all the staff are coming to work each day and if there are any other of those regular daily problems causing issues. Then you get back and have to catch up on what happened whilst you were away and process all you have done while travelling. Still you only need one idea, one new plant, one new contact or just some clear air and different views to make it all worth while.
Spring is a both a good and bad time to travel. Cash flow and sales are good but demand on time and resources are high. With Australian spring running into Christmas the economy is usually pretty robust over this period. Although there are so many mixed signals on the economy. On one hand the government is telling us certain parts are going well due to low interest rates and an expanding population. On the other hand many small retailers are struggling and almost all business expenses are rising well ahead of general inflation.
Speaking of the government I wonder where the new leadership team will take us. It seems amazing that a simple change in leader can cause such a massive shift in the polls. Sure Malcolm Turnbull and his team will have a very different style and direction than Tony Abbot but I doubt the average voter would actually be aware of how that will affect their lives.
It is a sad statement that so many people vote on their media based perception of the leader. There is minimal analysis of policies and philosophies and the repercussions they have on the lives of average Australians. It is all done on those 5 second news grabs. GST to 15%? Yes or no with very little actual understanding of what that will do to all the working people. What will that do to all the small manufacturers and retailers? Most of them won’t be able to pass on the full change to 15%. The large retailers will simply tell us to absorb it and they probably won’t change their prices. This will then force the smaller retailers to price match.
Compare this to a 1% increase in Medicare levy which will have similar fund raising results but would be passed through the whole system in a much fairer and simpler manner. It won’t impose extra work on small business and will get picked up in the following year’s wage rises. This is the sort of discussion that is needed but not held – at least not in the public arena.
Whatever happens in Canberra we will keep producing our plants and we will keep fighting the battles. We will watch the weather and hope for a good spring and summer that isn’t too hot. Life goes on and the plants keep growing. Indeed the biggest issue in the immediate future is if there will be two non Victorian teams in the Grand Final. Have a great spring and remember it is only two and a bit months to Santa.