“The rogue operator or operators in horticulture should be ‘named and shamed’,” according to the AUSVEG CEO, Richard Mulcahy.

“Both Horticulture Innovation Australia and the Senate Levies Inquiry should identify those referred to in recent hearings rather than shielding them from public scrutiny.

“If HIA’s CEO needs to appear again and name them under Parliamentary privilege then so be it.

“We are sick and tired of wearing the blame for the actions of a few who should have been severely dealt with when they were identified as being out of line.

“Instead the entire 43 PIBs have suffered financially because of the actions of a few and there is no justice in that situation.

“Over $4 million in consultation funding for PIBs has been withdrawn under the direction of the Minister yet the overwhelming majority of PIBs have their house in order and run clean operations. How is this fair?

“It’s like a 1960s’ teaching style where the whole class is punished because of the actions of one or two trouble-makers.

“I am tired of having to respond to growers who keep asking who the rogues are. I know them, HIA knows them and possibly the Parliamentary Committee knows them and they should release their identities.

“Quite frankly, I believe Horticulture Australia Limited (HAL) should have called in the Australian Federal Police (AFP) to do a forensic audit when these issues first surfaced. There is public money involved here and I would like to have seen charges laid if the Commonwealth authorities believe there is a case to answer.

“Instead bureaucrats in the Department of Agriculture have used these transgressions to justify up-ending HAL to massively diminish the influence of grower representatives.

“AUSVEG is proud of our governance and integrity in all of our dealings. Yet we have seen around $1 million in consultation funding withdrawn because of the actions of others. We have an audit and finance committee and the governance applying in AUSVEG is of a higher standard than that applying in any government agency in my opinion.”

Mr Mulcahy is also a former Chairman of the ACT Public Accounts Committee and conducted a large range of investigations into government agencies in the ACT – more than at any other time since self-government.

“We have gone to incredible lengths and great expense to ensure we observe good governance with both internal and external auditing. Yet we are being lumped in with those who don’t have the same commitment to the highest standards of corporate governance,” he said.

  Andrew MacDonald, AUSVEG Manager – Communications
Phone: (03) 9882 0277, Mobile: 0406 836 330, Email: andrew.macdonald@ausveg.com.au