Industry groups make submissions on AWI

Industry groups make submissions on Australian Wool Innovation


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Industry groups are taking advantage of the opportunity to contribute to a review of Australian Wool Innovation.

Industry groups representing the nation's woolgrowers are taking advantage of the opportunity to voice their concerns about Australian Wool Innovation’s governance.

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Australian Wool Innovation chairman Wal Merriman. Photo by Andrew Meares.

Australian Wool Innovation chairman Wal Merriman. Photo by Andrew Meares.

The Victorian Farmers Federation is in the process of finalising its submission, which VFF livestock president Leonard Vallance said was “one of those things that needed to be done”.

“Our members grow wool, and woolgrowers pay levies, so surely they’re entitled to have a say,” Mr Vallance said.

“It’s important that growers individually have a say, and organisations should as well.”

While he could not disclose details of the submission, he said one of their key focuses would be that AWI needs oversight.

“We’ve long had the belief that we want wool producers to have oversight of AWI and its budget, similar to the meat industry, where there’s oversight of Meat & Livestock Australia’s budget,” he said.

WoolProducers Australia chief executive officer Jo Hall said they would submit a statement to Ernst & Young (EY), who is undertaking the investigation into AWI’s performance and governance.

“Wool producers have long held concerns about the transparency and accountability of AWI,” Ms Hall said.

Triggered by allegations of a "toxic" corporate culture heard in Senate estimates, Agriculture and Water Resources Minister David Littleproud said the review was expected to be completed by July with the findings made public before WoolPoll voting on September 17.

The review comes after the embattled wool body, which received almost $75 million from woolgrowers and taxpayers last year, experienced a series of scandals in the past year. 

The National Council of Wool Selling Brokers of Australia will be submitting a review but executive director Chris Wilcox said he could not disclose details of the submission at this stage.

The council’s members account for over 80 per cent of the wool sold at auction in Australia, so it plans to ensure wool brokers are heard on all major industry issues.

Shearing Contractors Association of Australia secretary Jason Letchford said he has been in contact with EY regarding the review of AWI.

“Part of the problem with AWI, and the review process, is that criticism is not taken objectively or constructively,” Mr Letchford said.

EY was appointed last month by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources to conduct the review, which is being led by Andrew Metcalfe.

“The purpose of the independent review is to consider AWI’s performance against its stated objectives to ensure it is delivering for growers and community,” Mr Metcalfe said.

He said the review will consider AWI’s delivery on core objectives including research, development, extension and marketing services to woolgrowers, and other matters of public interest.

An EY spokesperson said there has so far been many stakeholder meetings and teleconferences, and extensive phone research across all states and territories, to help with the review.

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