Following the presentation a lively panel discussion was held with Jennifer Smith Grubb, Di Dibley (National Policy Advisor Environment and Energy, Australian Industry Group), Genevieve Carruthers (EMS Association President and Environmental Systems Specialist with the NSW Department of Primary Industries) and George Wilson (Program Manager - Environment and Farm Management RIRDC).
Some of the issues to emerge included:
- Corporations are very interested in EMS as a means of addressing global warming.
- $20 million spent by Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry on EMS Pilot Programs (16 in total) and EMS Pathways (19 projects) – where to from here?
- While it may be easier for corporations to implement an EMS than it is for small businesses/ farmers, due to the availability of resources to do so, small businesses also have some advantages when developing EMS (including simplified communication, more direct control over the direction of the business and similar).
- Financial incentives are not as useful as a ‘professional facilitator’ to help implement an on-farm EMS, through encouragement, support and gentle reminders of timelines!.
- Suggestions that an EMS help-desk model similar to that of Australian Industry Group, which has an energy and sustainable business help-desk for members wanting technical advice and support, could be set up for agricultural and other industries.
- Catchment Management Authorities could use an EMS to facilitate on-ground adoption of catchment targets by landholders – giving real measures of performance, with the ability for results to feed back into the catchment management process.
- Australian Government needs to give a price signal on carbon in order to move forward.