Growers urged to vote in AWI election

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Bob GarnantThe West Australian
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Woolgrowers who are eligible to have an influence on the Australian Wool Innovation board election process should prepare now to decide their vote.

Incumbent AWI directors Wal Merriman and David Webster will retire and re-stand for election at the 2015 annual general meeting to be held on November 20 in Sydney.

Director Brian van Rooyen will not stand and former National Farmers' Federation president Jock Laurie has achieved the necessary 100 valid shareholder signatures to stand as a candidate.

Wandering woolgrower Max Watts, whose family produces 250 bales per year, said he would be posting his election vote and has already sent off his WoolPoll decision for a 1 per cent levy change.

"Most of the WoolPoll committee preferred a 1.5 per cent levy option which was disappointedly rejected by the board," he said.

Mr Watts said he was disillusioned by AWI at the last AGM when the board decided to change the marketing/research and development ratio from 50-50 to 60-40 respectively.

He said unfortunately it is the board's prerogative to change the levy ratio without any required consultation with woolgrowers.

"In the meantime, Woolgrowers costs are going up and we need more on-farm research to counter this," he said.

"There were no options for the three board stand-downs and it just seems there are limited opportunities for candidates that have the appropriate skills to get past the wall of popularity voting.

"It appears the board is hand-picking candidates who are very close to the stud industry and the terms are not governed by a sunset clause for the length of tenure.

"The board's decision to spend more on marketing is not paying dividends at the farm gate for our business."

WAFarmers encourages all eligible levy payers to make use of their vote which can be done by hand, mail, online, fax, or by appointment of proxy.

WAFarmers reiterates that to be elected, a candidate must receive more “for” votes, approving their election, than “against” votes.

“This majority decider would change the outcome of the election process if more “against” votes were recorded against the “for” votes for a candidate,” a WAFarmers spokesman said.

“This will send a clear message by levy payers directly to the board of directors.

“This is a golden opportunity for levy payers to send a clear and concise message if they want changes to the existing incumbent directors,” a WAFarmers spokesman said.

“Ticking the abstain box is a wasted vote and given the amount of wool tax collected, this is a growers opportunity to really have an influence over who should be making decisions as to how this income should be spent for the benefit of the industry.”

WA woolgrowers can lodge an appointment of proxy form with their named person/company as their voting representative.

Contact the WAFarmers office on 9486 2100 by Wednesday, November 18.

AWI said woolgrowers were posted all the relevant AGM information and for those who have not received their mail packets, they are advised to call Link Market Services on 1800 113 373.

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