Legislative Council: Wednesday, February 22, 2023


Foodland Supplier of the Year Awards

The Hon. I. PNEVMATIKOS (14:44): My question is to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs. Will the minister please update the council on Foodland's Supplier of the Year Awards?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (14:44): I thank the honourable member for her very important question in relation to the Foodland Supplier of the Year Awards towards the end of last year. It was a pleasure to attend those awards with a number of my colleagues in this place. I had the distinct pleasure at the table I was at of having the company of the Hon. Frank Pangallo and the Hon. Connie Bonaros. It is a pleasure when it is just one but when you have both of the SA-Best representatives it is a fantastic night.

It was in a number of capacities that I was pleased to be at this event. Of course, as Minister for Industrial Relations, Foodland and the independent retail sector generally are a strong part of the South Australian economy and have worked particularly closely with not just the government but also SA-Best, the Greens and others about shop trading hours and making sure that we are giving the independent retail sector the best possible help in South Australia to employ South Australians. I was also very pleased to attend those awards in my capacity as Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, and invited to attend the awards to speak about the importance of our commitment to a First Nations Voice to parliament in South Australia and nationally.

Foodland is, of course, a great South Australian institution. Not only does it provide good well-paid jobs for South Australian workers and an important counterbalance to the much bigger supermarkets and national and multinational chains, it also supports local jobs right throughout the supply chain. I think I mentioned before, under the previous Weatherill government, as Minister for Manufacturing, I heard again and again that independent supermarkets were instrumental in helping small food manufacturers in South Australia get a start. The Foodlands and the IGAs would provide advice on product placement, on marketing and packaging, and there were quite a lot of times that small food manufacturers talked about the start they got through independent retailers.

As I said, it was a pleasure to attend the Foodland Supplier of the Year Awards and see so many of the local suppliers who have flourished and grown because of the strong independent retail sector. The dinner was attended by, I am told, in excess of 400 people, including retailers, store teams, state and national suppliers to Foodland. At this event, Foodland celebrated its 60th year of operations and inducted 17 past and present owners into the inaugural Foodland Hall of Fame.

Following the performance at the start of the night by Electric Fields and Tjarutja First Nations Dance Collective, 16 awards were delivered to suppliers in a whole array of different sectors. There were some very notable South Australian winners including San Remo, winning the South Australian Supplier of the Year, Ceravolo Orchards, winning the Sustainable Seven Award, and Vili's Family Bakery, winning the Bakery Goods Award.

At this event Foodland also announced that it would be commencing work to enter into a reconciliation action plan. Reconciliation action plans over recent years have been an important mechanism to ensure that there is a structured framework with targets and tangible actions implemented by organisations to promote reconciliation, increase understanding and promote respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities, and to have plans for a company to do better in terms of employment, engagement and supply.

Although it is very early on in their reconciliation journey, I commend Foodland for taking this very, very important first step, and I would particularly like to acknowledge and thank Foodland CEO Franklin Dos Santos for the invitation to speak at this important event. Reflecting on it, it shows a growing willingness if corporations like Foodland are very keen for speakers to come and talk about a Voice and the importance it has to the whole Australian community.