WOOL grower representative body WoolProducers Australia has told Australian Wool Innovation to get on with the job of improving its performance.
WoolProducers senior vice president Ed Storey said there appeared to be some resistance within the grower-owned R&D and marketing company to implementing the recommendations made in the recent review of AWI’s performance ordered by Agriculture Minister David Littleproud.
“Recent claims made by AWI has included that the recommendations will cost millions of woolgrower dollars,” Mr Storey said.
“While acknowledging that there will be a cost in implementing these recommendations, WoolProducers rejects that these will costs will be as substantial as claimed.
“The reality is the recommendations are aimed at modernising AWI and their operations,” Mr Storey said.
‘Any costs associated with implementing these changes are due to AWI Board not ensuring that AWI have kept abreast of good governance practices over the past few years.”
Mr Storey said WoolProducers was calling for consistency in the implementation of the review recommendations.
“Governance issues are the responsibility of the AWI board and there is no need for these to go to shareholder votes,” Mr Storey said.
“There are a number of recommendations that will require shareholder approval, but also a number that the Board can implement themselves. The report suggests that many recommendations can be made without the need for shareholders to vote.
“WPA see no reason why those recommendations that the board can implement themselves aren’t done immediately to make AWI the most effective and efficient organisation for woolgrowers.”
Mr Storey said although there was ambiguity about how some recommendations were to be implemented, AWI has indicated that it had sought legal advice on how best to implement these.
“As this legal advice has been funded by woolgrowers, WoolProducers are calling for this advice to be made public,” he said.
“AWI has also claimed that the recommendations regarding the board nomination committee and how director elections are conducted will see woolgrowers lose their ability to vote for candidates for board elections – this is simply false.
“Comparisons with the Meat and Livestock Australia election process are factually incorrect, no where do the recommendations suggest that the number of candidates running for board elections will be stifled.”
Mr Storey said nominees would need to possess skills in line with a skills-based board, which was a requirement under the statutory funding agreement.
“This does not mean that candidates will not possess knowledge of the wool industry; rather they will be able to use these skills in addition to their industry knowledge to add further value to AWI,” Mr Storey said.