CBH director pair throw hats in the ring for re-election

Headshot of Cally Dupe
Cally DupeCountryman
CBH chairman Wally Newman.
Camera IconCBH chairman Wally Newman. Credit: Countryman

Two CBH directors whose terms expire in February plan to run for re-election, with chairman Wally Newman and District 2 representative Vern Dempster confirming they will stand again.

It comes after District 1 representative Rod Madden revealed last week he would not seek re-election for his position when the polls opened in January, ending a 12-year non-consecutive term.

The CBH grain growers’ co-operative board is made up of nine member directors from five districts and three independent directors. Mr Newman, a Newdegate farmer, said he planned to run for his District 4 position on the CBH board.

However, he remained non-committal about whether he wanted to continue as chairman.

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Mr Newman did say he was proud of the “huge changes” the board had achieved during his tenure.

Mr Newman has been chairman since August 2014 and has served on the CBH board since 2000.

He was deputy chairman from 2008 until 2012 and was last re-elected as the District 4 representative in 2017.

His time in the top position has included implementing a minimum voting participation threshold for significant decisions, in a bid to strengthen the protection of the collective equity and co-operative.

At last year’s CBH annual general meeting, members agreed to amend rules so a 50 per cent minimum voting participation was required for significant changes to the co-operative — including winding up, takeover or corporatisation. Previously, such changes required a minimum of 75 per cent support of those members who voted on the change, but there was no minimum voting participation threshold.

The change to structure followed corporatisation attempts by Australian Grains Champion in 2016.

“We don’t want to end up where we were in 2000, when growers didn’t understand how their growers got their value ...

“Moving forward, people will understand how they get their value and it will be harder to change the structure of the cooperative.“

“the new voting rules have given a lot more protection to the co-operative.

“That is one of the reasons Rod (Madden) is feeling comfortable walking out, because we have achieved that.”

Vern Dempster of Northam is running for district 2.
Camera IconVern Dempster of Northam is running for district 2. Credit: Countryman

Mr Dempster faced stiff competition from Cunderdin grower Stuart Mussared in District 2 JUduring the last election, winning by just seven votes in a 236 to 229 contest.

In April, he ended an almost five-year tenure as CBH board vice-chairman and handed the reins to Cascade grain, cattle and sheep farmer Simon Stead.

However, THE Northam farmer still plans to run for re-election in January, saying he believed it was important the board held onto experienced members.

There will be at least one new board member next year after Mr Madden announced he would step down in February.

His retirement means there at least two directors with less than two years’ experience next year, after Yelbeni farmer Derek Clauson stepped down last year.

Mr Clauson was replaced by Mukinbudin farmer Jeff Seaby.

“You don’t want to lose all of your experienced grower directors at once ... it is a big company with a lot to learn and it takes time to learn,” he said.

“Last year we lost Derek (District 2 representative) and this year we will lose Rod.

“That was in my consideration in nominating. It does take a while to be fully effective, it is a big company with a lot to learn and it takes time to learn.”

Mr Dempster, who sits on the board’s remuneration and nomination committee and the Interflour board, said he also believed the group achieved a lot during the past decade.

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