Welcome to another Spring. As usual some parts of the country are well into their spring sales and are running out of stock. Here in Victoria retails sales have just started to move and things are looking good. With our seven day weather cycle I think we are in for a spring of fine weekends with the cool changes coming through mid week. The housing market is still strong so there should be good demand for landscape plants and green walls are becoming more popular. This is good for our industry as it significantly increases the amount of space available for plants in the urban environment.
All this is good but sometimes I feel the decks are stacked against small businesses. Not the micro and home based enterprises with few or no staff but those slightly larger companies that employ the majority of Australians. The politicians and media regularly talk about the tough life of the 'hard working Australian employee'. It is as though we are not hard working yet I have met few employed people that put in the hours the average small business owner does.
It can be extremely frustrating as we deal with the stupidity of middle level bureaucracy. People who work around 40 hours a week, take four weeks annual leave, 13-15 public holidays per year and 10+ days of personal leave. People who rarely understand the implications of their decisions. In Victoria there is a controversy of what is defined as intensive farming. So many small farms around the state are been put through the ringer by neighbours, anti meat eaters and urban folk who have moved to the country. A local free range pig farmer with no negative impact on the local residents has been pushed to closing. Sometime in the past a person was asked to define 'intensive farming' for the planning scheme. Being lazy they simply decided that if most of the food came from off-site the farm was intensive. Now another bureaucrat has decided that this means 62% of the nutritional value of the feed - regardless of how the animals are raised or what their enclosures are like or if there is an y impact on the neighbours. A large number of animal farms and dairies would import more than 38% of the nutritional value of their stock's food.
Another one of these people who don't actually produce anything has decided that in Victoria Long Service Leave should be carried across different employers. Long Service Leave means a reward for 'long service'. They feel that if someone changes their job a few times it is unfair that they are not eligible for 'long service leave'. They feel that after ten years employment with an y number of employers a person should get 'long service leave'. I am not sure how this will be funded but I suspect we, the small employer, will cop the worst of it. Perhaps we should send them a dictionary and highlight the words 'long' and 'service'.
Australia Post has decided that because we only sent 350 parcels last year we are no longer entitled to use 'e-parcel' and should use normal mail or even use a private courier company. They are so busy and profitable that they can get rid of customers? A decision made by a middle management office worker. Ring the customer services manager and the response is 'Sorry sir but that is a corporate decision'. No desire to help or even communicate.
We want to send edible plants into Northern Territory but we have to spray them with toxic chemicals to prevent the movement of Western Flower Thrip. (I suspect it is probably already there anyway). I ring and point out that these plants are going to be eaten, their response - 'the garden centre will just have to keep them separate for a few weeks'. I can see that happening.
Tesltra, power companies, water companies, insurance companies public servants, banks and so-on make decisions, set up policies and increase prices with complete disregard for the small business. It is frustrating and makes you feel completely un-important. They know you have very little choice. We are such a small economy that is so dominated by two or three corporate entities and an over patronising public service that we can do little but live with it. None of the elected governments really care about what happens to us. They just do what they want and don't really work through the repercussions.
At a recent council meeting comments were made about the lack of farmers in the gallery to speak to issues relevant to them whilst there was a large number of local residents present. Perhaps it was because those farmers were too busy running their farms. Perhaps they trust the politicians and bureaucrats to make decisions that are fair and sensible. Either way I doubt it is because they didn't care as was implied.
Anyway, it is spring, weather is warming up, flowers are out and the birds are chirping. Life isn't too bad and Australia is still one of the best places in the world to live - it just could be a lot better. We have great gardens and a fantastic selection of edible plants for the home garden and in the produce stores. Finals are just around the corner and the excitement is building. Unfortunately we have a new public holiday which will cost Victorian businesses millions of dollars. After the finals is Spring Racing Festival, then Christmas and then a new year starts.
Time to get plants on the ground for late spring and summer sales. Check out the list - we have some new lines and a few old favourites back in stock. The Hostas are back and so are the old classic Rock Roses.
I hope you are all well and have a great and busy spring.