Woolgrowers and taxpayers financed nearly $75,000 for a six-week study trip for Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) chief executive Stuart McCullough in the United States, it has been revealed.
AWI paid for Mr McCullough to complete the Stanford University's six-week executive program in 2013 over four comparable courses offered by Australian institutions, which cost from $7000 to $10,000.
The wool body, which last financial year received nearly $75 million in revenue, recently disclosed the study bill in response to questions taken on notice by the industry group during a Senate estimate grilling in October, 2017.
The trip cost $74,635 in total, including $64,654 tuition, $9287 airfares and $694 stationary and books.
Mr McCullough attended the guest speaker sessions but did not attend the exercise and yoga classes offered as part of the course costs.
AWI recently responded to Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie line of questioning regarding the relevance of the study trip to the industry group and its shareholders.
AWI stated the course was “challenging and stretching Mr McCullough’s thinking, helping to shape the company’s future by pushing his conventionally held tolerances...”. The board endorsed the course as part of a four-year long-term incentive scheme contract.
It is one of two executive courses Mr McCullough completed, financed by AWI, including Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) directors course, valued at about $6500.
AWI director Colette Garnsey was the only board member with pre-existing corporate governance training, while directors James Morgan and Meredith Sheil completed the AICD company directors course after they were elected.
Chairman Wal Merriman has only completed two short AICD courses, including a 1.5 day governance foundations course and a one-day course into the role of the chairman in 2011, at a combined cost of $1000.