​​Media Release

Peeling back new layers of onion knowledge

16 October 2015

Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Senator Anne Ruston, used her first official engagement in the portfolio at the Onions Australia conference to promote new trade opportunities for producers and the benefits of research and development.

Minister Ruston also congratulated Dean Metcalf, the winner of the 2015 Reg Miller Award for outstanding contributions to the Australian onion industry.

“Mr Metcalf has had a lifelong passion for the horticulture industry and has spent more than a quarter of a century studying onion-related diseases,” Minister Ruston said.

“Mr Metcalf’s passion for researching ways to control and combat plant disease has resulted in huge productivity gains for producers, who now have the means to control a range of damaging rots and fungi.

“His work on Trichoderma—a fungus that kills other fungi—as well as his work on rots and other diseases that affect horticulture products from onions right through to avocadoes and raspberries—have made a great contribution to the horticulture industry.

“Mr Metcalf and his work will leave a lasting legacy for Australia’s agriculture industry, and he’s a worthy winner of the Reg Miller Award.”

Minister Ruston said research and development (R&D) underpinned productivity across the agriculture sector, including in the onion industry.

“We know that R&D is at the heart of productivity gains in agriculture—ABARES has found that for every dollar invested in rural R&D, industry generates a $12 return within 10 years,” Minister Ruston said.

“Which is why the Australian Government continues to invest in rural R&D activities—more than $700 million every year—almost $250 million of which is to match industry contributions.

“It is important we continue to fund R&D in the sector so we can encourage people like Mr Metcalf to pursue their passions—because their work can benefit producers right across the country.

“The Government understands this necessity—which is why the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper has invested an additional $100 million to extend the Rural R&D for Profit programme until 2021-22, to continue encouraging innovative research partnerships between Research and Development Corporations, industry and researchers.

“We are committed to smarter and more innovative approaches to farming that focus on real tangible benefits—and this is just one example of that commitment.

“Researchers like Mr Metcalf embody the sorts of people we want to encourage and I congratulate him on his outstanding work and longstanding commitment to the sector.”

The Reg Miller Award recognises people who have made outstanding contributions to the Australian Onion Industry. The award is named for Reg Miller, a South Australian who helped found what is now known as Onions Australia.

For more information on the award and conference, visit: www.onionsaustralia.org.au/​