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Kathleen Curry

Public Affairs Director
T: 02 9478 1004
M: 0429 011 690

HAL Review

In 2013 Horticulture Australia Limited commissioned ACIL Allen Consulting Ltd to conduct an independent review of HAL’s operations, model and horticulture levy systems. 

The review was conducted in three stages, with engagement from stakeholders and the public contributing to the review. Click here to view NSW Farmers' submission to the HAL Review.

The review's final report was handed down on 9 May 2014 with the key finding that HAL's structure is no longer adequate to meet the needs of horticultural growers and recommended major structural reform to better align the operations of HAL to contemporary agricultural research and development in Australia. 

The report contains nine (9) key recommendations for restructuring HAL.  They are:

  • HAL will transition over a period to become a grower-owned rural Research and Development Corporation.

The report found that there is presently a conflict of interest created in HAL's structure with many of the funds allocated flowing to the peak industry bodies (PIB) that are the owners of HAL and that there is a perception that the present approaches to managing the conflicts that this creates are not working.  The report proposes that this recommendation will assist HAL in becoming more flexible and accountable to the needs of industry as well as more strategic in its oversight of RDE.  It is proposed that growers would have proportional voting rights on the basis of levies paid.

  •  Industry Advisory Committees (IAC) will be disbanded and replaced with new forms of independent advice.

The IAC structure was perceived by the Report as institutionalising the conflicts of interest in the administration of RDE investments.  The IAC structure was also considered to be excessive in the cost to HAL.  The report proposes that a new independent process of receiving information on making investments on behalf of industry should be found.

  •  Rationalise and strengthen strategic planning for RDE

The process of developing 32 strategic industry plans will be collapsed into one strategic plan for all of horticulture.  This plan would be a rolling three year plan based on industry priorities (developed from the needs of commodity producers) and strategies (top down all of horticulture priorities) as opposed to RDE strategies.

  •  Streamline HAL's industry liaison and RDE service units
It was considered that the division of HAL's work between the 43 different commodity groups leads to a dissipation of and a lack of coordination in the companies effort, while at the same time increasing administrative costs.  This would require HAL to consider the best way to seek input from levy paying growers as well as to report on its activities to provide accountability back to levy paying.
  • Improve procurement, management and reporting

Administration of investments should be moved to ensure the burden administration of RDE investments is proportionate to the size of the investment. This includes streamlining the application process and ensuring that a focus is on providing levy payers with the outcomes of research being a priority outcome and prior to scientific publication.  Better coordination of reporting is required to ensure that research is not duplicated across the organisation.

  • Change the administration of marketing levies

HAL should no longer administer marketing levies.  Rather the PIB responsible for establishing the levy should be able to administer the levy under new governance arrangements in which marketing activities are subject to open tender with strict reporting requirements.  HAL would be able to tender for this marketing work, and also undertake cross industry marketing.

  • Improved direct communication with growers

Direct communication between HAL and levy payers is essential to the proposed grower owned model.  It will also better enable HAL to communicate the outcomes of RDE for the adoption by growers.  It is proposed that a levy payer register could be established with a voluntary opt out option on communications from HAL.

  • Improved transparency and efficiency of levy collection is required  

The review found confusion over the administration of the levy system and a need for better mechanisms to collect levies and recommended the Department and HAL collaboratively develop a strategy to reform horticultural levy arrangements.  This should be undertaken prior to August 2017 to enable the process of having levies re-approved with levy payers prior to their regulatory expiration on 1 April 2019.

  • Improved accountabilities and processes

The report recommends the adoption of administrative processes that are graduated dependent upon the level of investment in a project as a means to reduce HAL overheads, and proposes that HAL no longer allocate funds for its own internal management based on a percentage of spending but as a fixed cost.

The report proposes that the recommendations could be implemented through the Minister for Agriculture making a declaration that HAL ceases to be the industry services body under the Horticulture Marketing and Research and Development Services Act 2000 by 1 July 2014 with the roles and assets and liabilities of HAL transitioning to a new Commonwealth owned corporation as a transitional mechanism to establishing a new grower owned Research and development corporation by October 2015.

For more information on the HAL Review visit the HAL Review Website.



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