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Two Royal Commissions, One Common Theme

Tue 12, Feb 2019

Already in 2019, there have been two important nationally significant reports handed down that deal with issues important to many of our members, to consultants and advisors in general, and importantly, primary producers - the users of our services.  These were the reports from the Royal Commissions into the Murray Darling Basin, and Misconduct into the Banking and Finance Sectors. More royal commissions are planned for the year.

These reports were very different in their terms of reference and obviously covering very different areas of the economy and touching on particular farmer groups, consultants and, to varying degrees, other stakeholders in the sector.

When considering the underlying, root cause issues raised in both reports, it is apparent that professionalism, and understanding what it means to do the right thing, to work transparently and ethically, and in a socially responsible way, were common areas that failed. Unfortunately, the consequences of unethical and unsustainable business behaviour are felt by end-user of services and customers, many of which are in the agricultural sector.

The ramifications of these reports, particularly from the banking royal commission, is that practicing professionals across all sectors of the economy and society ought to be reflecting seriously on the implications of these findings.

The AIA supports the ethical and sustainable delivery of agricultural and related services and supports an honest and transparent dialogue with its stakeholders on matters of critical importance including those related to finance, business, as well as resource and climate-related issues including management and advice on the use of water.

The central pillar to the Chartered Agriculturalist (CAg) scheme has been the revision of the AIA’s own Ethics Policy and Code of Ethics. The scheme was launched in November 2018.

There are four elements in the AIA’s Ethics Policy that applicants for the CAg scheme are expected to perform in, and that is, to demonstrate integrity, to practise competently, to exercise leadership, and to promote sustainability.

Demonstrating integrity involves communicating honestly and effectively. Professionals in our sector should provide clear and timely communications on issues such as professional agricultural services, their costs, outcomes and the risks involved.

As a CAg you are expected to be transparent, honest and trustworthy. You should accept, as well as give, honest and fair evaluation, and be prepared to explain your work and reasoning. Also, in managing perceived conflicts of interest, you should ensure that those conflicts are disclosed to relevant parties.

As a CAg, you are also expected and required to promote sustainability. This means engaging responsibly with the community and other stakeholders, being sensitive to public concerns, informing employers or clients of the likely consequences of proposed activities on the community and the environment, and promoting the involvement of all stakeholders and the community in decisions and processes that may impact upon them, such as amenity and the environment.

All these areas are a part of the commitment Chartered Agriculturalists (CAg) make and are examined on when they apply to become Chartered.

The CAg scheme provides a revised and improved standard for industry. It is the next step for professional development and recognition by professionals in agriculture and natural resource management for AIA and non-AIA members.

If you are a professional working in agriculture and or natural resource management and would like to share your experience or expertise in working with ethics, and handling ethical dilemmas, then please contact the AIA so we can include your ideas, feedback and suggestions into the review of the Chartered Agriculturalist (CAg) which will be undertaken this year.

To get a better understanding of how the AIA has developed the Chartered Agriculturalist (CAg) scheme, check out the scheme design document on the AIA website:

To lodge your expression of interest in becoming recognised as CAg, please email

Further comments on both royal commissions will be provided in the coming weeks.


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