The Omicron variant has highlighted the strain that COVID-19 has been exerting on Australia’s supply networks, as well as possibilities to make the operations and markets more resilient. The main question would be whether state and federal governments have the foresight to take the required steps today to ensure that the supply chains operate more efficiently in the future. Furthermore, Growcom asked for work to be done on enabling shorter and more decentralised fresh produce supply chains, connecting customers more directly with growers. This is mainly done to complement the longer systems that are presently relied on.
This was in relation to shifting consumer preferences for purchasing things online, having them delivered to their homes and procuring their produce locally. Fresh crop shortages in supermarket aisles have only recently become a reality. Growcom filed a proposal to the Queensland government at the time to explore this notion further, and while the Treasurer’s office expressed interest, it unfortunately did not go any further. Then, in October of last year, in reaction to significantly rising input costs, the organisation advocated for increased agricultural input self-sufficiency and an investment in locally sourced solutions to bridge gaps in our supply from overseas.
As a result, officials haven’t seen any clear indication from any incumbent administration or portfolio minister that they intend to take action to protect our own long-term strategic supply chain interests. This could be a result of governments on both sides of the aisle’s long-standing unwillingness to engage in the types of interventions that would be required, fueled by the prevalent free market, neoliberal orthodoxy. However, if the Opposition wins the next federal election in May, all of this might change. Under Federal Labor’s ‘Plan for a Better Future,’ Mr Albanese has made a return to local manufacturing one of his core themes.
Growcom is encouraged by the prospect of a full debate on the advantages of further government intervention in markets and manufacturing during this election season. You should, regardless of where you stand on the issue. According to Growcom, apart from the United States, no other country takes this issue as seriously as we they do. They believe that the way the markets and supply chains operate is a decision we make as a society, and it should be open to discussion.
Article by: Hari Yellina (Orchard Tech)