STAKEHOLDER forums are underway which could result in a major shake-up to one of horticulture’s key funding bodies.
Horticulture Australia Limited (HAL) has commissioned ACIL Allen Consulting to conduct a third-party review of its operations, including levy management.
The review was announced in August last year and received praise from industry groups at the time.
The review includes a consultation paper and stakeholder forums, the first of which began today in Innisfail, Queensland and Mildura, Victoria.
Other forums will take place in Wagga Wagga, NSW (February 6); Adelaide, SA (Feb 11); Melbourne, Vic (Feb 12); Bunbury, WA (Feb 17); Sydney, NSW (Feb 18); Launceston, Tas (Feb 27); Brisbane, Qld (Feb 27).
According to ACIL Allen Consulting, key issues for discussion include analyzing what is HAL’s primary purpose; how efficient it is; levy payer consultation; project delivery success; and the number of industry bodies making decisions about levies.
The discussion paper notes that the current model involves significant overheads — conservatively, about 28 per cent of levy contributions.
Currently, HAL has more than 3000 projects in operation.
The average spend on an R&D project is about $30,000. On marketing projects the average is less, around $20,000.
The consultation paper asks for growers’ views about whether projects are too small and whether their impact can be measured.
The review aims to address questions over the potential for conflict of interest in the current model which sees growing amounts of funding allocated through HAL to peak industry bodies, even though those industry bodies are the owners of HAL.
The discussion paper puts forward five different options for HAL’s future, one of which is abolishing HAL altogether.
HAL was created in 2001.
It is hoped the review will be completed by May.
Visit www.acilallen.com.au/halr eview for more details.