WoolProducers Australia (WPA) today congratulated the successful candidates of the Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) director elections and in doing so challenges the Board to improve their operations.
Richard Halliday, WoolProducers President said ‘WoolProducers welcomes the election of Ms Colette Garnsey; Mr Don Macdonald and Mr James Morgan to the Board of AWI, and after a very political and at times personal campaign, expects that they now get on with the business of effectively managing woolgrower funds’.
WoolProducers has been calling for more accountability and transparency to woolgrowers from the industry’s research, development and market body.
‘To be elected onto the AWI Board carries an enormous responsibility, as one of seven people responsible for the expenditure of millions of dollars of a compulsory tax on woolgrowers and millions of dollars of taxpayer dollars, the actions of these Directors must be nothing short of transparent’.
‘WoolProducers expects that the AWI Board will improve their governance practices which has been demonstrated to be lacking in recent times.’ Mr Halliday said.
‘AWI’s work should be acknowledged with the current prices being enjoyed by woolgrowers, however the prices need to be considered in the context of volume of supply.
‘AWI have previously stated that around 70% of the GVP and EMI are driven by supply and the reality is we as an industry have lost 20% of levy payers in the last decade.’
‘If AWI are going to continue to take credit for the current high prices, they must also accept that over the past they have caused thousands of growers to walk away from our industry.’ Mr Halliday said.
WoolProducers strongly believes that with the current optimism within industry that now is the time to improve the operations of AWI.
‘Historically the wool industry must be in crisis in order for change to occur and we believe the current reactive industry structure will eventually lead to this if things are not changed.’
‘WPA does not want to see the industry in that position, now or at anytime in the future, therefore the current AWI Board must start being proactive in their governance and operations to mitigate the risks of this occurring.’ Mr Halliday said.
‘Going forward, it is WoolProducers expectation that the Board of AWI will implement changes to increase independence, transparency and accountability in all aspects of their operations, in line with shareholder expectations.
‘WoolProducers have an action list that it expects the AWI Board to address immediately, which in some cases will require Constitutional change and in others will just require the Board to improve their current performance’.
‘Initially WoolProducers wants reform leading to transparency and genuine independence in the following areas: the conduct of WoolPoll; the entire voting and election process, including the Board Nomination Committee, proxy allocation and declaration and shareholder access; the operations of the Industry Consultative Committee and the three-yearly Review of Performance.’ Mr Halliday said.
WoolProducers also believes it is time for the AWI Board to improve consultation, communication and collaboration with industry.
‘AWI has previously acknowledged that WPA represents the most woolgrowers in Australia, it is high time that AWI start working with us rather than against us, after all both organisations work for woolgrowers’.
‘As the representative of the single largest body of woolgrowers in the country plus having the responsibility of oversighting the wool portion of the transaction levy for animal health and welfare activities, WPA and AWI must start working together.’
‘We have approached AWI numerous times on this issue to no avail, so our final expectation of this Board is that they start collaborating with us in the interests of all woolgrowers across a range of issues.’ Mr Halliday concluded.