Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee
29/10/2018
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

ALFORD, Ms Danielle, Regional Manager, Asia, Cardno International Development

INGRAM, Mr Mark, Chief Executive Officer, Business for Development

STEEL, Ms Helen, Chief Executive Officer, Shared Value Project

[13:42]

CHAIR: I now welcome our next witnesses. Some of you are repeat customers. Information on parliamentary privilege and the protection of witnesses and evidence has been provided to you. Would you like to make a brief opening statement before we proceed to questions?

Mr Ingram : Sure. Business for Development was formed 10 years ago. It spun out of World Vision Australia. It had early start-up funding from DFAT—AusAID as it was back then—for the first four years of our life, which was 2008-11. Since then we have run a fee-for-service model of engaging with companies around shared value or inclusive business solutions. That has largely taken us to work with Australian extractive companies in Africa Asia and the Pacific and how they manage their assets from a more inclusive perspective of helping local low-income communities.

We've also worked with the UNDP Business Call to Action. Business Call to Action started in 2008, and it has aggregated 220 companies around the world as a knowledge hub for pushing forward this idea that, through your core business motivated by profit, you can include in your value chain target communities and uplift them alongside making a dollar. We've supported that movement and over the years we have made a number of submissions to DFAT and inquiries related to encouraging more inclusive business in the Australian context. Thank you.

CHAIR: Ms Alford.

Ms Alford : Cardno is a long-term partner of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. We deliver around 50 contracts currently in 20 countries across the Asia-Pacific region. That means that we have solid experience and a deep understanding of the context in which we work, as well as being a private sector company ourselves. We feel like we are aware of and currently implementing a range of mechanisms by which to deliver overseas development support against the SDGs—we provided some examples in our submission—one of which can be more of a service delivery model. We gave some examples of a law and justice program in PNG, and our anti-trafficking program in Asia, where we're working with institutions and government to strengthen the services they provide for the populations that they serve. We believe that's an appropriate model in some instances.

Another example we gave was around how we work with the private sector and engage them with a market systems approach—our Cambodia Agricultural Value Chain Program—again, partnering and getting co-investment from private sector to bring about outcomes for farmers to increase the productivity and diversity of their crops. We're working with private sector partners that provide fertiliser, pesticide, seeds and machinery for farming, all in the pursuit of agricultural development in Cambodia in a partnership where they are co-investing. We have co-investment in 2017: for every aid dollar spent, around $1.60 was contributed by private sector partners. We believe that has a bit of a multiplier effect in the value of the aid.

In the third instance we talked about how we endorse a shared value model. We believe that this could even multiply those benefits for the aid dollar spent. Some of the work we've done is in the very early stages, providing linkages, sharing and documenting experience. We've worked with some private sector partners in Myanmar through the Myanmar Chamber of Commerce and have some good examples of where shared value initiatives are taking shape there. We've also worked with the extractives here in Australia and brought them together to discuss what might be some of the ways we can work together towards shared outcomes.

Ms Steel : Thank you to the committee for granting us the opportunity to talk further about our submission. The Shared Value Project, for those of you who don't know, are a peak body for shared value in the Australian region. We're committed to driving the adoption and implementation of shared value strategies among leading companies, civil society and government organisations. The Shared Value Project was launched in 2011 and was incorporated in 2014 as a member based organisation to connect business and community leaders working to define shared value in practice in Australia. It's pleasing for us to see that a number of our members including Cardno, Arup, NAB and Yarra Valley Water contributed submissions to the Senate inquiry. I also note that DFAT is a funding partner and founding member of the Shared Value Project.

The concept, for those of you who are not aware of it, was defined in the Harvard Business Review article 'Creating Shared Value' in 2011 by Professor Michael Porter and Mark Kramer. It's a relatively new business strategy that puts achieving positive social and environmental impact at the core of business for competitive advantage and profit. Recent events in Australia and globally have highlighted the urgent need for business to play a greater role in solving the complex social and environmental issues we face. Increasingly, consumers and employees demand that businesses are ethical and transparent in their conduct. We're also seeing, through our member community, that businesses understand they have a much greater role to play. There is an intention from those businesses to seek a better understanding of how to achieve that. We also would say, across our member organisations, that CEOs and boards are recognising the need for including shared value as one of the strategies to enable them to deliver on their purpose. It's being adapted and growing in Australia and throughout the region.

We recognise the great role that DFAT has played in supporting the work of shared value through the Business Partnerships Platform program. There are many Shared Value activities that we are aware of that are supported through that activity, but our members would like a much deeper connection with government, and I think that there's a greater role that government can play in convening the sorts of conversations that are necessary to really take the business partnership process forward, particularly with the private sector engagement piece. So our members are very much looking for the opportunity to do that, and of course the SDGs provide the perfect framework to understand all the social issues that companies are trying to address. Many of those businesses, of course, will select the issues that are most relevant to them, but I think that there's a role that DFAT can play in helping our businesses understand what is the impact to Australia and the region and perhaps providing some focus.

A comment that I'd like to make—and this was reflected somewhat in the submission—is that I think we sense a danger of this becoming, in regard to the SDGs, a box-ticking exercise. Shared Value is very much a business strategy and something that companies embed, not a corporate social responsibility exercise, which is often a marketing exercise and an adjunct to normal business conduct. Thank you.

CHAIR: Thank you. I will ask one question before I pass to others: is there a global exemplar in this space, whether it's a mining company, a nation, an NGO or all three?

Ms Steel : Certainly Nestle was one of the pioneering companies of Shared Value. In fact, they claim to have coined the term, and it came from work that they did with Kramer and Porter to reinvent themselves as a business and shift from thinking of themselves as a food producer to being a nutrition provider. So that's where a lot of the impetus for this work has come from: Nestle. But there are certainly many other organisations now that are exemplars. Arup would certainly sit there. IAG in Australia are certainly among the leading companies.

CHAIR: What's Arup?

Ms Steel : It's a private company, UK based. It's an engineering company and works in international aid, similar, I guess, to Cardno.

CHAIR: If you all have an example, it's good to have it on the record.

Mr Ingram : In terms of countries, as per your previous panel, the UK really has driven a lot of work in inclusive business and supported the early work that UNDP did in this space. The Germans now, through GIZ, and Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands would be the key economies which have multinationals that operate in the emerging markets, so they're able to work in partnership with those effectively. But, as Helen says, I think there's a lot more work that could be done in the Australian context, proactively, to seek partnership solutions with industry here.

Ms Alford : Our experience has been not so much with multinationals, even though there are some great examples that I'm aware of. It has been in emerging markets. There are really good examples in the local industries of where this is being done. Possibly even before the term 'shared value' was coined, there were initiatives that fit well within those cultural paradigms. So we're quite keen to draw some of those examples out as well.

Senator LINES: We heard, particularly from the NGO sector this morning, about how many of the SDGs really focus on women and girls, and we know that, through the empowerment of women, we can effect local change at community level. I've just looked at Cardno. It seems you have one woman on your board. Is that correct?

Ms Alford : Yes.

Senator LINES: Then, looking at your technical leaders, there are no women there.

Ms Alford : No, the president of the International Development Division is a woman, Marian Boreland.

Senator LINES: Okay. Then, looking at your senior principals, it appears there's one woman.

Senator McGRATH: You're a woman too.

Ms Alford : I'm a woman, yes. I'd need to revisit some of those.

Senator LINES: Presuming your website's up to date, that's what it's telling me. I want you to comment on the fact that your organisation, at its leadership level, is not anywhere remotely near fifty-fifty.

Ms Alford : Certainly at my level it is close to that.

Senator LINES: Yes, but I'm looking at the board, your technical leaders and your senior principals.

Ms Alford : Yes, but certainly our part of the business, international development, is headed by a woman. Then there are other parts of the business—engineering and professional services. There are several initiatives in place to continue to build the leadership capabilities of the women within Cardno.

Senator LINES: Can you take it on notice and give us a snapshot of your leadership and board and where the women are and what your objectives are in putting more women in leadership.

Ms Alford : Yes.

Senator LINES: There is a second question that I want to pose to all of you. I come at private investment with a healthy level of concern and suspicion. So I have declared my bias and I would like you to tell me not to have suspicion and concern. Mr Ingram, in your opening statement, you talked about the extractive industries. If we picture a mine, say, in PNG or wherever else it might be, and if we look at the kind of private investment that is there, how do we keep the focus on ensuring that the labourers in the mines not only have good occupational health and safety conditions but are actually benefiting from this investment? That's the bit I am sceptical about. I do not see the improvement in their lives. I use that as an example. There are many more where there is a lot of private investment going into the production of something or building something, but I'm wondering where that impact on either the local workforce or the local community is. If we were seeing great achievements there, they would be reported—and they're not. I wouldn't mind comments from all of you about that.

Mr Ingram : That's a fair question. One of our clients is the Ok Tedi Development Foundation in Western Province—if you are familiar.

Senator LINES: Yes.

Mr Ingram : There are 150,000 people and there is one asset, one business, in town, and that is that large mine, which has recently been nationalised. The problem is that the life of a mine is 20, 25 or maybe 30 years. For all of those communities the pressing concern is: what is life going to look like beyond the mine? So the development foundation has to think about building a second economy in Western Province. It goes well beyond the direct employees of Ok Tedi. So the Fly River system and how we can develop a corridor for agricultural activity for the communities to realise a better life into the future is a critical concern. That is our engagement with mining clients. We are less informed in influencing how they do the core employment of their operations and more how we create this dual development outcome that those who are proximate to mining assets can develop a sustainable economy that is separate from their dependency on mine employment, which is always short term.

If you look across Papua New Guinea, most people are employed in the agricultural sector. The future of that economy is so much going to be about how they can link to markets on a sustainable basis to get a commercial outcome and to get social uplift. We are thankful that mining companies are enlightened enough to think about that. We understand there is a whole lot more complexity to the issue of mining in countries like Papua New Guinea.

Senator LINES: How do aid organisations or organisations such as yours that are trying to bring private investment in get to that level where you are actually improving the lives of that workforce, or is that not your scope?

Mr Ingram : That workforce which is increasingly not getting employment is our scope—so, not while they are actively employed. You have got vessels going down a river. You have got roads that have been built. You have got infrastructure in Western Province that we can now leverage for agriculture, processing rubber and shipping it up to South-East Asia for car vehicle tyre manufacturers, or spices and so forth that could use the infrastructure that exists. So we build a business case to leverage what has been built for that investment, and as people come off the employment payroll we can pick them up and work with them at community level. Again, I would have to say that our expertise is limited to those non-mine forms of economic development.

Senator MOORE: Ms Alford, perhaps you might like to give Senator Lines some information on the forum you ran on extractive industries, which was looking particularly at the issues about which she is concerned. It's in your submission. I attended that forum that you ran in Melbourne that was looking particularly at the role of extractive industries and their commitments in this space, where there has been a pretty sad history across the world.

Ms Alford : That's right.

Senator MOORE: It might be useful to get something on record after the question.

Ms Alford : I think with the extractives you can have really good examples and really bad examples. I think we know what the bad examples are, but I think the good examples are where you do have responsible businesses and those policies are embedded in how they work. Some of the issues that were discussed in the round table were particularly around how you engage: what are the best ways to engage with those local communities and what's a common language around SDGs and how they can be measured and what can be expected to build some accountability in for those companies so the communities know what to expect and they can hold them to account? There was certainly a lot around having that common, simple language that talks to communities and also talks to business.

It is also making sure that SDGs are not sitting at the side and this is not corporate engagement or sustainability as a department off to the side; it's actually part of the core business and part of the business strategy. The businesses that attended our round table recognise the importance of investing in those communities for their business, but they also want to behave in an ethical way. It's actually important to who they are and the kind of business they want to be, and they are committed to that.

I guess the third thing that came out really strongly was: how do you measure that and what are some important ways of ensuring that accountability in relation to those commitments that are being made by those businesses when they go into that community and they operate? How are we measuring both the impact on the community and also the impact on their business so that there is that absolute value for the community and value for the business as well? They were some of the key topics for discussion around that, but certainly a commitment to be a responsible business and to operate in a highly ethical way, with high levels of accountability to those communities.

Senator SINGH: How many of those businesses didn't know what the SDGs were?

Ms Alford : I didn't attend the round table, so I—

Senator SINGH: I'm talking about the forum.

Senator MOORE: The issue is: the ones who came to the forum did.

Mr Ingram : It's probably the ones that were absent that were the problem.

Senator MOORE: That's right. I think that's the point that has to be raised: the level of knowledge and engagement from the people who came to that round table was high, but the issue remains that there are still a number of even Australian based groups. But the understanding that came out in that—and it's all on record—was that, within extractives, they're a leader in the business communities, the ones who are engaged. But it's how you actually pull the others in.

Ms Alford : To get that critical mass.

Mr Ingram : Our premise is not that every mining company is doing a perfect job of being inclusive and abiding by everything that's typically required. Our premise is that, as a matter of fact, there is a vast global footprint of Australian companies investing in emerging markets; what are we going to do to work alongside that to maximise the impact? We think shared value is a framework by which you can get companies to respond through the core business propositions that the board needs to see abided by in their fiduciary duties, but you can also optimise your community outcomes.

Senator SINGH: Ms Alford, you talk in Cardno's submission about this long-term partnership that Cardno has had with DFAT. How long is that partnership?

Ms Alford : I believe it's 30 years.

Senator SINGH: I guess you've seen a lot of changes to the aid program in that time and you draw on the fact that Cardno sees the ODA's impacts on SDGs—you know there's that link. I think there are 50 DFAT programs you're delivering at the moment. How have you seen those cuts to Australia's aid budget affect the work that Cardno does but, more particularly, the work on the ground in the region that over those 30 years you've engaged with? Obviously at the moment we are at the lowest level of our aid budget since records have been kept, so I would imagine Cardno has seen quite a lot of change in that time.

Ms Alford : Yes, and certainly in the time that I've been in the sector I've seen enormous change and enormous improvement, particularly in the region that I oversee, in Asia. In parts of South-East Asia it's completely different to 16 or 18 years ago in terms of the quality of life, people's longevity and access to essential services. So I think in a way there has been a natural evolution of the aid program, and it will continue to evolve over time. There's a lot of discussion that's been happening internally within Cardno and certainly within the sector around what an appropriate aid program is now, as countries move into middle-income status—what is our role, and how can we continue to support them? There's clearly a need still, but perhaps in certain parts of the world it's evolving. And then in the Pacific obviously the requirement for development assistance is still very strong.

Senator SINGH: Do you want to add to that?

Ms Steel : Yes. I want to perhaps address a couple of the comments you made, Senator Singh. Government funding is not increasing, and I think one of the things that impressed us about DFAT's approach was realising that issue and trying to be innovative in considering how that shortfall effectively could be made up. I guess that's why they've come to business as part of the solution. Part of the reason we're engaged in this conversation is that collectively we know that foundations, not-for-profits and government have only a limited pool of resources that they can draw from. That necessitates the conversation with business, who have an enormous amount of resources—and we're not just talking about dollars; we're talking about knowledge and skills that can also be applied. Businesses can't do it alone—well, it could be argued that business are perhaps arrogant enough to think they could do it on their own, but I would certainly disagree and certainly that's not the experience of our member cohort. They recognise that they can contribute to the problem, not that they're going to solve the problem in isolation. That's why the role of government is so important—to convene these conversations and bring together the not-for-profit and the business partners to develop effective and sustainable solutions to the problems that the SDGs highlight.

Senator SINGH: But surely you would agree that it's the case that business should have a role regardless of the current aid budget and where it finds itself; business shouldn't be there as a stopgap because the government of the day has decided to cut the aid budget.

Ms Steel : Yes, we agree that of course business should have a role to play, regardless. But I think government is in that unique position to understand the issues and to understand who the players are and be able to provide a platform to bring them together to convene and consider solutions.

Senator SINGH: I'm interested in that narrative, though—the way you put it—because it's probably correct, which goes back to my original question to Cardno. I'd like to know what the impact has been from Cardno's perspective. Obviously as a country we've basically pulled out of Africa, for example. You talk about this long relationship you have with DFAT. What has the impact of this massive cut in our aid budget been in your partnering with government on a range of programs?

Ms Alford : I believe part of it has been an evolution of the way aid is delivered. Certainly that is changing. And as Helen said, there is a role for business to play regardless. What we're seeing is educated people and an emerging private sector in the markets in which we work, and these approaches bring a lot of opportunities for us to work with them to maximise the aid funding that is provided to us, which we have done.

Senator SINGH: You make it sound so positive, and it's really not.

Senator McGRATH: They're doing a good job. That's why we're here—to hear about the good work they're doing.

Ms Alford : My own personal experience has definitely been in countries where I worked some time ago and now there has been a lot of positive change.

Senator SINGH: I just gave you Africa as an example. Are there programs that you were once working on with DFAT in Africa that you're no longer working on?

Ms Alford : There are some programs.

Senator SINGH: I've got a range of other areas where DFAT have had to pull out because the government's cut the aid budget, and I'm asking: what's been the impact, from businesses' perspective, of the partnering with DFAT?

Ms Alford : There are other governments that fund into Africa. The UK government is a big funder. And there are other sources of funding. Whilst we would have had programs funded by DFAT previously, we now have programs funded by DFID and also some private sector partners as well.

CHAIR: Oil Search in New Guinea allegedly or anecdotally provides a first-class health system for its workforce and the broader community around it. Is that an emerging area, where our aid should be looking to foster and enhance those outcomes?

Mr Ingram : Peter is kind of familiar with Oil Search programs in the Highlands and he explains that he has the delivery mechanism, given his infrastructure and footprint in Papua New Guinea, to distribute health outcomes on behalf of donors supplemented by Oil Search health foundation. His proposition is: we are there, we are active, we are available, and our pathway to move what we extract out of the Highlands is also a pathway to deliver health outcomes. So it is very much along that shared value philosophy: why don't you leverage what we have as infrastructure to deliver social good?

CHAIR: We took some evidence during our inquiry into opportunities in Africa, which have been decimated under the aid program—we don't do as much there as we used to. But the mining companies that we spoke to said that they were planning for a 15-year mine but a 40-year or 50-year outcome for the community around them. When they dug it up, they offered opportunities for work. They were also, at that stage, looking at building a viable economy around them so when they filled the hole in and moved away, there was an economy to be left. Do you see that as the new and emerging trend, particularly in extractive industries?

Mr Ingram : I do. The problem with the influence of technology, robotics and AI is you are seeing a dramatic reduction in the number of people who need to be employed in a mine—remote-controlled mines are the future, right? You still have a community that is proximate to an asset that is looking at that with the expectation of benefit. That is going to amplify the need to look at building these non-mine-dependent employment outcomes. We see some market movers such as Base Resource in our submission doing that. To Senator Singh's point, we do think that the aid reductions are a problem for those who are not able to participate in markets. So for those who are under the threshold of engagement with the value chains of businesses, there still remains subsistence small-holder farmers in Africa as a prime example. If we point to the UK and their leadership, there is a bipartisan commitment, as I understand it, to maintain a reasonable level of aid, and they are innovating around the business solutions that should come around alongside that.

Our first iteration was as a Business for poverty relief alliance, which was a group of leading Australian CEOs that said: maintain aid—that is important for the feasibility of the business community that does business in those markets—but let's innovate around further outcomes and the role of business along the way. So I think both are important.

CHAIR: Given the contest about how much aid we should be giving, even if we were to have a bipartisan view on that, it is still not exclusive; we still need to have a partnership with the private sector to do the big things we are trying to do.

Mr Ingram : Completely, and the centre of our submission is to get more proactive as government, as the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, in talking to companies about where that mutual benefit exists. You can't just set out a range of tenders and requests for proposals because companies won't look at those. You have to go to the eastern seaboard major cities and sit down with companies—individually if possible—and look at partnership solutions that deliver their commercial aspirations as well as development outcomes.

CHAIR: Is there any evidence of that emerging with the department?

Mr Ingram : I think we have all tried, and I will get Helen to speak to that, to varying degrees of success. I think more work could be done.

Ms Steel : DFAT has convened a series of consultations with our members—but I would agree with Mark's comments—to varying degrees of success. I think there is a deeper understanding of what companies would like to see and the roles they would like to play, but we will see whether or not that comes to fruition.

Ms Alford : There is an openness. In the foreign policy white paper, it specifically states it is an important role for the private sector to play, that there are assets and knowledge as well as capital that they can contribute. I think that is our directive. That is the strategy that we would be taking on board and, certainly, a real openness for ideas about how that might happen. In conversations that we've had, I feel there are probably opportunities at the post level where there is a lot more interaction with chambers of commerce and businesses, international and local businesses, and, certainly, where we've been working, an openness to considering how to engage those private sector partners in thinking through the aid program and its investments in the coming period. I think there will be opportunities at the country level—

Mr Ingram : I think recruitment processes are important to start looking at people who've had some business background and experience coming into government; it is going to help bridge the language matter and pitch a business case that works.

CHAIR: So what does it look like? I mean, to pinch Senator McGrath's favourite topic, do you have to employ a person just to fill out the forms to interact with the aid program or is it more simple than that? Are they nimble and agile and innovative like—

Senator MOORE: Oh, stop it.

Ms Alford : We're entering into the phase where aid investment plans are being reviewed and are being planned out for the next five-year period, and so I think there is a lot of openness in considering what is the best way to do this, who might our partners be, how can we ensure that we deliver on the white paper objectives and that there are outcomes for the countries in which we work, outcomes for business and outcomes for the Australian public as well.

CHAIR: Senator Moore?

Senator MOORE: Thank you. The example you've given us in your submission is the one in Kenya, which is the ethical cotton, and that's one we've talked about a lot in public places because it brings Cotton On and also the mining company looking at it and there's investment across the board. I think that's really useful and also the way it actually uses the SDG model to look at what's going on there, particularly around women and employment in an industry they didn't have. I am fascinated by the proposal about the food—the one that you mentioned as a possibility; you're wanting more investment into food and agribusiness—because a number of people who provided submissions to this inquiry have also been focusing in that space. This morning we heard from the universities network about the work they are doing across so many universities, and one of the real leaders has been in agriculture and looking at the linkages with that. Where are you at with that process? You've provided a really solid proposal that has impact across a range of the SDGs and also across most areas in the developing world. Where are we at with that at the moment? Is that still in a developmental phase?

Mr Ingram : 'We' as in the Australian community as a whole?

Senator MOORE: Yes, and also within your organisation, which has been really driving this as one of the threshold future projects which would prove how working together across a range of sectors can come up with a project that benefits just about all of the SDGs.

Mr Ingram : We constantly pitch to Australian based companies in the food sector. We worked with Coca-Cola Amatil to look at a coffee program in Indonesia, for example. The great opportunity is to partner with government more effectively to approach companies such as a Coles. You look at their supply chain out of Asia, it's vast and it goes right back to smallholder farmers, which are a critical target. We put our submission together with UNDP and two-thirds of those 220 companies are agribusiness food companies that look down to the farmer and their supply chain. We have UK supermarkets in our chain in Indonesia that are originating prawns, for example, for UK supermarkets. We don't have that in Australia.

Senator MOORE: And promoting them on shelf?

Mr Ingram : And promoting them on shelf.

Senator MOORE: And saying, 'This is what we're doing' and encouraging people to buy them because that's where they come from.

Mr Ingram : Imagine the dialogue with Coles' executive team if there was a more proactive approach from DFAT to say: 'We need a conversation with you about your supply chain. We want to look at development outcomes. How do we work out something that works for you, works for the aid program? And if you need an intermediary, we can freely provide those services.'

Senator MOORE: That's where it comes back to shared values and working within established networks to show people it can happen. The tone of your submission is very optimistic. I've asked previous witnesses if they are hopeful, but it seems that you think more could be done in this space.

Mr Ingram : I am optimistic because I know there's an untapped opportunity there. SunRice Australia have got a whole lot of rice production in this country, but the global demand for SunRice branded products is four times what they can produce in Australia.

Senator MOORE: They have that close link in PNG.

Mr Ingram : And Cambodia and the whole Mekong.

Senator MOORE: They've just had a whole bunch of people from PNG over to Parliament House last week. But that should be widened to places like Cambodia and the Mekong.

Mr Ingram : Widened to the Mekong, where they can help develop farmers and improve the whole rice value chain in those economies, alongside feeding foreign exchange earnings for an Australian listed company in the process.

Ms Alford : SunRice has been very active in Vietnam already, developing their markets and ensuring their rice is export quality, and I know that they are looking into opportunities in the Mekong region more broadly as well.

Mr Ingram : But I don't think there's a partnership with DFAT, and I know that that's a prime opportunity for them, and it's hard for them to look at current programs and proposals.

Senator MOORE: Who drives that in DFAT?

CHAIR: The ACR is certainly involved in Vietnam in rice growing, because they've taken on the increased salinity and inundation and developed rice that grows under water for several weeks.

Mr Ingram : There's a private sector development team, but it's a quite small unit within the system.

Senator MOORE: That's the link within DFAT at the moment—the private sector development team—and that's your contact there at the moment.

Ms Steel : Yes.

Mr Ingram : I'd have to get a name for you.

Senator MOORE: But that's the point in the department with whom you work.

Mr Ingram : Correct.

Senator MOORE: So the recommendations you've given to us are that that should be where it's focused.

Mr Ingram : Their capacity needs to be augmented, clearly.

Ms Alford : As I mentioned before, I think there is also quite a lot of opportunity at post to explore these opportunities at a country level.

Senator MOORE: They're the ones who'd know best, wouldn't they.

Ms Alford : That's right.

Senator MOORE: They're the ones who are dealing all the time.

Ms Alford : Yes.

Senator MOORE: And they're the ones that have Austrade connections as well.

Ms Alford : That's right, yes.

CHAIR: We're at the appointed time. Thank you very much for your submissions and appearance today to answer our questions. We will suspend till the next witnesses.

Proceedings suspended from 14:22 to 14:32