Monday, 24 June 2024

World Potato Congress

I am pleased to join you for the opening of the 12th World Potato Congress, especially as this is the first time this event has been held in Australia.

I warmly welcome you to Adelaide, particularly those who have travelled long distances to be here.

I thank our friends who have ventured from warmer climes to an Adelaide winter, though you may be surprised that ours is mild and often sunny.

The cooler weather is also ideal for a serving of hot potato chips with chicken salt, a delicious seasoning developed here in the 1970s which has gained popularity throughout the country.

All you’ll need to do is find a traditional fish and chips shop, of which there are plenty in Adelaide!

I should perhaps say to our international visitors that my role as Governor is not like that, for instance, of Governors in the United States.

My office exercises all the powers of Head of State in South Australia, powers historically derived from the King but now exercised completely independently.

Fittingly, though, His Majesty has had a keen interest in agriculture for decades and is a long-time champion of organic and sustainable agricultural practices.


Australia is an important contributor to global potato production.

Recently, the production value of Australia's potato industry passed $1 billion for the first time, driven significantly by investment in automation and innovation.

Australia exported more than 40,000 tonnes of potatoes last financial year, with South Korea and the Philippines our largest customers.

The latest edition of the Australian Horticulture Statistics Handbook shows the industry continues to produce about 1.4 million tonnes of potatoes per year, and the value of that production in the 2022-23 financial year increased by a significant 24 percent.

During my career as an Australian diplomat, including serving as Australian Ambassador to China, I was long professionally involved in Australia’s agricultural trade.

Australia is currently Chair of the Cairns Group, a coalition, as I’m sure you know, of 20 mid‑size countries, committed to achieving free and fair trade in agriculture that provides real and sustainable benefits for all countries – particularly those in the developing world.

Potatoes are one of the world’s largest food crops, and the way we produce and trade them can positively contribute to mitigating climate change and global hunger, as well as improving environmental sustainability.

More recently as Governor, alongside my local discussions with business leaders and industry visits, I have been proud to promote South Australia’s agricultural strengths in the East-Asian and European markets in various overseas trade missions.

It is fitting that this World Potato Congress is being held in Adelaide, with South Australia accounting for 30 percent of Australia’s overall potato production, and the bulk of supply into domestic fresh markets.

South Australia is a major producer of horticulture and recognised for its excellence in environmentally clean, safe and advanced agricultural production.

We are also Australia's largest producer of certified seed potatoes.

On Kangaroo Island, here in South Australia, I have visited Cooper Seed Potatoes, one of these producers.

The isolation of the island makes it ideal for the production of disease-free seed potatoes, as some of you will see on Wednesday’s tour.

South Australia also has an established reputation for research and innovation in potato production.

Before the Second World War, five percent of national production took place here.

Since then, we have grown our share substantially, currently producing 80 percent of Australia’s fresh, washed potatoes.


Everything in my professional diplomatic experience convinces me of the value of long-term engagement and dialogue.

In that light, I congratulate the World Potato Congress for bringing together people who contribute to the supply chain alongside customers and retailers.

Whether you are involved in agronomic production, processing, packaging, retailing, wholesaling, consumer trends, or international trade, by learning from each other’s perspectives, you can shape a strong future that is resilient in the face of changing trends and pressures.

I note that the conference program includes opportunities to enjoy the best of South Australia’s lifestyle.

While South Australians are proud of our agricultural production, we are equally proud of our exceptional food and wine, both produced from our clean, green environment.

I thank the World Potato Congress and Potatoes Australia for bringing this conference together.

I trust the delegates have an enjoyable and productive congress that will forge new connections.

I have great pleasure in declaring the congress open.

Coming events