Category Archives: builders and makers

When Are We Going to Support Our Own? Farmers Under Pressure!

In Australian vernacular, other countries are “having a lend of us” while we continue to have an open door policy to imports. The latest story comes from a Kiwi Fruit farmer in Queensland who has been growing his fruit for 35 years, has a major financial investment in his systems and crop, and is now competing in the markets against fresh product from New Zealand, USA, France and Italy. These are coming in the same growing season as our own.

The Australian farmer is receiving less per box than it costs him to grow and the imported products are selling at $65 a box, five times his production costs here. In addition the imported fruit is only 60g, too small to be acceptable from an Australian farmer. These imports are being sent half way around the world and taking shelf space in our stores instead of our own produce. In addition, despite our labelling laws on fresh produce they are not necessarily showing country of origin on the produce at point of sale. Our gatekeepers are not keeping the gate.

How can this continue to happen and what are the consequences on our long term capacity to feed ourselves if we pretend our people are playing to the same rules as other countries, and our legislators and their advisers do nothing about it? We have been complicit in doing this to our own people.

Australian products exported into the EU have high tariffs of around 18%. It appears there are few barriers to Italy and France exporting here. For countries in trouble, dumping is rife. New Zealand managed to negotiate a deal when the EU was set up so that its products do not have the same level of tariffs as Australian produce and products. The USA subsidizes its farmers and has done so for decades, even before we signed a Free Trade Agreement in 2005 allowing easier access to our market than the USA allowed to theirs with tariffs on Australian imports for up to 20 years.

The kiwi fruit were probably dispatched when our dollar was high, meaning they were even cheaper than imports are now. In the last few weeks the A$ has lost over 10% of its value. If we do not have our own growers and processes sourcing and making here, imports will add to the inflationary pressures on the cost of living for basics food commodities. That will add dramatically to our national debt. Some will say it will benefit our exports. But what will be have to export that we still own?

Government policy for decades has been based on the false assumption that we export most of our food. This was the rationale for the ACCC and FIRB to allow the control of every major food commodity except rice to be controlled beyond the farm gate by foreign owned interests. When the research was last done in 1998 it found we only export more than 50% of our beef, grain and fibre, and consume most of our produce here. Foreign control of our exports means Australia does not get the full benefit of our exports as decisions and profits go off shore. Today we import more fresh produce than we export, from countries that do not meet the same standards and growing conditions of our farmers. Australian consumers are being duped and our Australian owned processors under costs pressures with high interest rates, carbon tax, rising energy and water costs etc.

The level of inertia and inaction by our decisions makers is costing our farmers and businesses dearly. When complaints are put to the ACCC or Productivity Commission, local companies and growers have to “prove” there is a problem and months and years go by as the market rapidly changes. New Zealand sought and gained an Amendment under the WTO to “protect” in 1995 its key industries. Australia has done nothing. Why not?

For many of our farmers and businesses talk has been too little too late as they lose shelf space and distribution in the supply chain. When an economy is out of balance it is our wealth creators, our farmers and our businesses that have no safety net. They are told to be productive and competitive with their hands tied behind their backs.

That is why informed consumers can make a difference. What price so we put on our future?

Interviews can be arranged with Lynne Wilkinson, CEO of AUSBUY on 0294375455 or 0418314923.

Labelling Laws – Still waiting for action while consumers confused and local manufacturers and growers are undermined

When the Senate Enquiry into “Truth in Labelling” was undertaken in October 2009 there was some hope that Australians would finally see where their products come from even though the label says “Made in Australia”, even though at the time most industry groups rejected the concept. While the Senate has rejected “Made in Australia” the key issue then and now in AUSBUY’s submission was the need for Country of Origin. This has now been recognised. Now the work really begins. Let’s hope our industries and our farmers can hold on long enough.

Labels are complicated. They are also costly to replace for manufacturers already under cost pressure. While discussions have been consumer focused, the suppliers also need to be considered, especially those locally owned businesses whose ethic is to source from Australian farmers and suppliers whenever possible. Of course Australia does not produce every ingredient, but then not all ingredients are cited on a tin of pears or more complicated sauces etc.  “Made in Australia” infers products are sourced here. Local and imported confuse the issue further.

Change cannot be avoided as the source of our foods are increasingly complicated by our Free Trade Agreements, high dollar and virtual open door policy to imports. To their credit Coles and Woolworths manage “Country of origin” reasonably well on their private label brands. They may be replacing locally made and grown foods because our businesses cannot compete on price against cheap imports, but at least consumers have a choice to avoid imported foods, even if they are made here because the label tells them the source.

Some consumers in sheer frustration use bar codes when they shop. The problem is the 93 barcode for Australia means the company has a registered office here and may be foreign owned and imported.

In the meantime AUSBUY has attended many meetings and discussions where the various sides had their say (or did not). Many meetings were chaired with a pre-determined outcome, so discussion appeared to be superfluous. Or the issues were so complex that Senators where clearly bamboozled having had no industry experience of the complexities. No need for this as the experts were in the room, time was limited and an outcome expected.

As AUSBUY has highlighted in the past, if the intent is misplaced then the action is misplaced, and without a clear objective it is easy to sustain inertia when confusion reigns. Few see the bigger picture or acknowledge the consequences. You guessed it, after more than four years the announcement this week on “made in Australia” is no action as the Senate rejected. The changes do not go far enough. We can only hope it does not take another four years to get an outcome that benefits Australia.

The food sector is the largest manufacturing sector we have left where there is a spread of businesses across our communities and regions sourcing from local farmers. Many small businesses drive the innovation in the food sector. These are the businesses that “value-add’ our commodities – but we have stopped talking about “value adding” and control of the supply chain and key industries.

In the past four years we have seen multinationals take over more local brands, farms bought because on farm income has been in decline for decades, commodity industries such as dairy, fruit and vegetable growers under threat, or factories close here and move off shore to sell back to us. No one has counted the cost to our manufacturers and growers as imported foods replace local produce and still carry the “Made in Australia” label as long as it meets the 51% test of substantial transformation (including packaging costs). For a country that prides itself on our agriculture we have no major global brands since Fosters was sold.

The issue is from “where”. We have signed Free Trade Agreements with countries that do not reciprocate opportunities as our exports incur tariffs (USA, EU), open our doors to countries that do not meet our standards, or imports that bring the threat of disease when we have under-resourced our gatekeepers AQIS and Bio-Security Australia. Diseases are being introduced to our once clean, green growing environment via the back door and the front door.

Ask our orange growers. We cannot take foods across state borders but import foods that do not meet our standards, yet oranges from overseas compete in the same growing season at the same price as our local produce. These activities are hidden in processed foods. At least we have “Country of Origin” on fresh produce, championed by AUSBUY over a decade ago. But again this is not policed at local and state levels, except where big supermarkets err.

Then there is the seasonality of food. If manufacturers want to sustain their production line the excuse is to import out of season. Whatever we can do to support our local manufacturers and growers and give priority to their sustainability the better. Labelling laws are important, but only part of the problems facing our essential industries. AUSBUY’s focus is on informed consumers and working with manufacturers and growers,  but then we only represent Australian owned businesses so our message is not compromised.

Australian Companies Institute Limited (AUSBUY) is a not for profit organisation representing Australian owned businesses exclusively since 1991. Interviews can be arranged.  Lynne Wilkinson 02 9437 5455 0418 3149 23

Intent: How to Get What You Wish For

“While intent is the seed of manifestation, action is the water that nourishes the seed. Your actions must reflect your goals in order to achieve true success. INTENT reveals desire; ACTION reveals commitment.”  Steve Maraboli

In our topsy-turvy world it is useful to be reminded how we evaluate the information overload which forms our opinions, and how we as individuals and groups respond to these.

Have you ever experienced the “ah ha!” factor? In recent months there have been several occasions where I have seen both the good and bad in our changing world, and, while not necessarily directly related to business and trade, these helped put into context what ACIL (AUSBUY) does and why we do it and to observe the intent of others. So I invite you to consider what the word “intent” means to you, to determine the “intent” of your own decisions, and observe those given responsibility to make them on our behalf. We appreciate that change happens. We can adapt to it, be part of it and even lead it. However the “intent” of those driving the change needs to be better understood.

Firstly, I was in a meeting where the leaders espoused a particular outcome before a vote that would mean a change in the organisation’s voting rights, and give a greater voice to its members. Robust discussion ensued from representatives both for and against change before a wide audience and those entitled to vote. Representatives of the non- voters, were seated separately. While the leaders espoused the same intent to change the rules to allow a plebiscite, the approach taken in the meeting to achieve the result did not reference their shared intent – a stronger, engaged organisation. In discussions both sides showed aggression. The only way was their way. Points of law and a limited time frame distracted and even confused the worthy adjudicator and the people asked to vote.

“The most important distinction between aggression and assertion is the intention. During assertion, we move ourselves toward another; during aggression, we move ourselves against another.” Georgia Lanoil

The end result was when voting took place – you guessed it – no change. Better the devil you know rather than something new. What got in the way of achieving the shared values and outcome? The intent was honourable, but the actions by some parties on both sides much less so. There was little time for “reason” and questions about the consequences of the proposed changes, although much had been written and distributed to the voters. There was no time given to make people accountable for their positions or vested interests. Innuendo is not a good basis for decisions. And this was a meeting of highly educated people. It would appear wisdom cannot be assumed or translated in a group where vested interests have louder voices.

“A fraudulent intent, however carefully concealed at the outset, will generally, in the end, betray itself”. Titus Livius

The second “ah ha!” was when AUSBUY took a petition to Canberra for the last sitting week of Parliament in late 2012. Eight politicians from both Houses and all Parties supported the petition asking for a moratorium on the sale of our wealth creating assets and our land until we have a national interest test. In a year where confrontation and discord seemed to be the order of the day, this was an issue which united these political representatives to stand beside us. What has happened in the subsequent period is that the issue of the “national interest” is talked about without discussion or reference, while back room deals are done to sell off our wealth creating assets for the short term fix. Organisations representing Australian owned interests are rarely invited to the table. However it says a lot about the politicians who supported AUSBUY and does give some hope that their “intent” is in our interests.

The third “ah ha!” occasion was orchestrated by a recent AUSBUY Corporate Member, Aussie Farmers Direct, at the opening of their new distribution facility in Melbourne. The “intent” of the function reflected the principles of the business. State and Federal representatives attended, indigenous Australians performed welcome to country, and local school children sang the national anthem. Suppliers and franchisees were integral to the team effort. While these activities might be “must haves” for local businesses, the “intent” to engage with and empower people is evident in the way in which the business was established, and is lead and structured. This is a business with a long term plan based on engagement, shared values, creating an environment for people to operate at their best and giving back.

AUSBUY recently launched a Builders and Makers Campaign where the key issues that they share no matter what the industry are: long term plan; short term adaptation to market conditions; innovation; product or service integrity, value their people and manage them accordingly, perseverance and resilience; reinvestment here. Their “intent” gives meaning to what they do and is reflected in the integrity and quality of goods and services that they produce.

While we see change all around us and much of it is taken out of our control, we can assert our intentions and lead the change rather than be caught in the maelstrom. It is about empowerment and choice. Our future should be in our hands.

“We call an intention good which is right in itself, but the action is good, not because it contains within it some good, but because it issues from a good intention.” Peter Abelard

Cost of Living Rises – Why

In response to the article on The Punch

These are the personal unintended consequences of globalism and consolidation of assets into fewer hands, especially those off shore. The response from our government is to put a “For Sale” sign on our wealth creating assets so that the decisions are made off shore, the profits leave here aided by our generous tax concessions to foreign companies (and countries), the ACCC finds it hard to say no to any takeover and the FIRB does not count the cost of strategic assets sold to countries.

Prices will rise because they can, our governments have failed to plan, which means businesses close and the hand out queue becomes bigger, although business owners rarely ask for hand outs even if they close their doors. They are the forgotten people. More then ever we need to support our owned businesses. And decisions makers need to check where their priorities really are. Here or elsewhere. Hope will return when our leaders are working for us not the others.

AUSBUY believes that only Australian ownership means the profits, skills, jobs, reinvestment and decisions stay here.  Support Australian Owned, buy the new AUSBUY Guide which is now available for purchase over 2000 supermarkets nationwide. Click here to find your nearest stockist. The AUSBUY Guide remains the most comprehensive list of Australian owned businesses to help you spend wisely.

AUSBUY Buying Guide V37

Meet the Building Blocks of Our Future

Our People Inspired to “Have a Go” – Hope, Purpose and Resilience

Q: What is the difference between an Australian owned business and a foreign owned company?

A: You can meet the locals running our businesses, not the unseen faces of foreign corporations.

These “locals” are the men and women who “have a go” to create and build businesses here. These are our wealth creators. These are our innovators. These are the people who realise their ideas, develop them, risk their own capital, create jobs, nurture skills and reinvest here. These are the people who take pride in the quality and integrity of their products. These are their stories. These people are the Builders and Makers of our future.

What drives these people to take an idea and create a business? Hope that they will succeed, a strong focus on the purpose of the business and the resilience to meet the challenges they face. These are the qualities that built this country and are evident today among our Builders and Makers.

AUSBUY is proud to introduce the new and exciting “Builders and Makers” feature to be launched on November 7th, 2012 along with the release of the latest edition of the AUSBUY Buying Guide. These Builders and Makers are AUSBUY members, and are an example of the hope, purpose and resilience of the Australian people. These are the people who need the support of our consumers, businesses or governments.

 AUSBUY is proud to introduce the “Builders & Makers”…..

Kate Worth – Go Natural

Go Natural was founded by Kate and David Worth in 1987, and now 25 years later, their interest and passion for natural and organic food continues to inspire product development. Go Natural’s concept of “natural” means as close to nature as possible, so their products contain whole natural ingredients, the vast majority of which are sourced from Australian producers. Their product range now extends to fifty products ranging from super healthy through to naturally indulgent snacks; all offering the same promise of the most natural, wholesome ingredients possible, including gluten free and non GM products.

Sam Tucker – Tuckers Natural

The Tucker family brought decades of experience in the food industry to realise their vision to provide premium quality, authentic, natural Australian-made crackers and biscuits as an easy entertaining option. They now sell their range throughout Australiaand in fourteen countries. Sam Tucker believes consumers concerns are extremely important. For example, Tuckers switched to 100% cold pressed rice bran oil because consumers wanted a product completely free of GM ingredients. Sam was also named Young Industry Leader at the SA Premier Food Awards in 2010, is a Board Member of Food SA, and provides inspiration and support to anyone wanting to enter the food industry.

Justin Dowel – Natures Organics

Terry Dowel formed this innovative company in the late 1950’s and was the first in Australiato manufacture and sell hair conditioner direct to hairdressers, as well becoming the first to process and stabilize Aloe Vera gel. His son, Justin, continues to pioneer new environmental technologies and has seen Natures Organics become the most trusted environmental brand in Australia. Today Natures Organics manufactures extensive ranges of personal and household products. Natures Organics also supports a number of orphanages around the world. This gives them an even greater purpose beyond creating jobs, nurturing skills and building a business here.

 Rob McGavin – Cobram Estate

Boundary Bend Estate was established in 1998 by visionary horticulturalists Rob McGavin and Paul Riordan. They later purchased the Cobram Estate brand, one of Australia’s leading supermarket and gourmet brands. Australian olive growers have been fighting for their survival, producing world class Extra Virgin Olive Oil, only to see the farm gate price slashed by more than 50% over the last 4 years, as a consequence of low global olive oil prices and strong AUD, as well as terrible floods in 2010/2011. However, Rob McGavin takes pride in protecting the integrity of Cobram Estate’s olive oil to ensure freshness, flavour and enjoyment, for the benefits of customers. Cobram Estate’s deep commitment to quality means they take care of every stage of production, from planting and picking, to milling and bottling. This ensures that Cobram Estate’s award-winning Extra Virgin Olive Oil is pure and fresh, cholesterol and preservative free.

Elise Ramsey – AussieMite

AussieMite was initiated by Roger Ramsay with his aim to see more Australian products on supermarket shelves, and to take on Vegemite (foreign owned by Kraft Foods since the 1940s). It has not been an easy task. AussieMite launched in Foodland stores in South Australia and the independents in 2001,  but only years later finally had a real swipe at the significant savoury spreads market. Armed with a marketing degree and determination for the premium product to be enjoyed more widely, daughter Elise Ramsey relocated part–time to the UK, made acquaintances with influential people, initiated a rebrand with creative agency B&B Studio and succeeded in getting the savoury spread onto the shelves of leading UK supermarkets Selfridges and Waitrose in time for the London Olympics. Soon after, AussieMite made a homecoming, and has made it intoAustralia’s Big Two supermarkets and is now listed nationally in Coles and in select Woolworth’s stores.

Erik Scholz – Scholz Industries

Erik Scholz is proud to lead a young, dynamic business which is 100% Australian owned and 100% committed to trade partners, the Electrical and Air conditioning Contractors. Scholz Industries was formed to generate growth in the HVAC market through innovative product development aimed at assisting the air conditioning contractor with business opportunities. This further developed into the establishment of the Scholz Electrical division to support Energy Efficient products available to electrical contractors through National Electrical Wholesalers. Scholz Group also has a range of Eco friendly Exhaust and Ceiling fans. Both ranges have been designed to reduce the amount of energy consumption in the home, assist the home owner to reduce their overall electricity costs, in some cases  by over 70%. Additional benefits of the air movement products include increased air flow, with the OpalAir ceiling fan capable of moving an impressive 11,000 cubic metres per hour of air and the Eco Exhaust fan moving up to 180 litres per second of air. Both products have full Australian Approvals and offer unbeatable warranty of up to 7 years on the Eco Exhaust range.

FOR INTERVIEWS: (02) 9437 5455 or [email protected]

Contact Lynne Wilkinson, CEO, Australian Companies Institute Limited (AUSBUY) & the “Builders & Makers”.

 The Australian Companies Institute Limited most familiar consumer brand is AUSBUY:

AUSBUY Owned and Made, AUSBUY Owned; AUSBUY Owned and Grown.

Since 1991 AUSBUY has been the only organisation in Australia that represents and promotes Australian owned businesses exclusively across every industry sector including manufacturing, producers and services. We believe that only Australian ownership means the decisions, profits, jobs, skills and reinvestment stay here. We are a not for profit organisation and have never received government funds. Like our members we have a passion for what is best for Australia.