WoolPoll will go to a preference count for the first time in its history after none of the options put to woolgrowers received the required 50 per cent majority on the first count.
Australian Wool Innovation said it had been advised by the returning officer, Link Market Services, that the vote between the option of a 1.5 per cent levy and a 2 per cent levy was very close, with the counting of preferences needed to determine the final outcome.
The procedure for applying the optional preferential voting system is set out in the WoolPoll regulations and on the ballot papers.
Australian Wool Innovation CEO Stuart McCullough said the company was seeking additional independent advice from Link and the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources to ensure the process was rigorous.
On 14 November, AWI will convene a meeting of the WoolPoll Panel meeting to endorse the process.
Mr McCullough said AWI was encouraged by the strong level of participation in WoolPoll 2018, with 13,506 votes cast, representing 28.67 per cent of individual voters and 55.92 per cent of total votes.
“WoolPoll is one of the fundamental principles of AWI, providing growers with the democratic opportunity every three years to vote on the levy rate they pay to fund to research, development and marketing activities,” he said.
“This is the first time the vote has gone to preferences. Given wool prices and the drought conditions affecting much of the industry, we acknowledge and understand that some growers feel a 1.5 per cent levy is an appropriate levy rate to be paying at this time.
“Regardless of the final outcome, AWI is as committed as ever to investing the money it receives from the levy effectively and efficiently and delivering results for all woolgrowers.”
Mr McCullough thanked the WoolPoll Panel and its Chairman, Sydney Lawrie, for their contribution and for encouraging participation and ensuring the voting process was conducted in compliance with the Wool Services Privatisation (Wool Levy Poll) Reulgations.
WoolPoll is the opportunity woolgrowers have every three years to vote on what percentage of their wool income they would like to invest in research, development (R&D) and marketing undertaken by AWI.
Anyone who has paid at least $100 worth of wool levies over the past three years was eligible to vote when WoolPoll opened on Monday, 17 September. Voting closed on Friday, 2 November.