Groundswell of support for transition of CBH

Haidee VandenbergheCountryman

Growers have voted to move CBH to the new WA Co-operatives Act, making it the first co-operative to do so.

An overwhelming majority of 96.66 per cent of grower members voted in favour of the transition at last week’s Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM). Just 31 of the 921 proxy votes were against the move.

But with the transition to the new Act, under which all co-operatives must apply for registration by May 31, 2012, comes a new set of rules.

CBH chairman Neil Wandel told the EGM that modernising the rules, which originated from 1933, was long overdue.

More than 96 per cent of the votes were in favour of adopting the new rules, which include changed active membership requirements.

The rules to become a member remain the same: a grower must deliver 600 tonnes over the past three years and have deliveries in either of the past two years.

The change is to the rules for staying a member.

Previously, once a grower was a member, membership was retained by delivering 100 tonnes or more over the prior three years, with deliveries in either of the last two years.

That will now change and growers must deliver 600 tonnes or more over three years, with deliveries in either of the last two years to stay a member.

About 300 growers are expected to be affected by the changes and CBH said provisions would be made for exceptional circumstances.

The number of members required to call an EGM, set to be called a Special General Meeting, will rise from 25 members to 10 per cent of members.

It’s intended to avoid expenses associated with an EGM where the resolutions have little chance of garnering the required support.

There will also now be a provision for CBH to issue Co-operative Capital Units as a means of raising capital without handing over membership rights.

Mr Wandel said CBH was pleased to lead the way on reform.

“We recognised that the timing so close to seeding was not ideal but it was very important that as many members as possible utilised the opportunity to take control of the future of their co-operative,” he said.

Darkan farmer Ray Harrington said he believed the mood among growers towards CBH was positive and they were looking forward to the co-operative growing.

Co-operatives WA chairman Chris Enright congratulated CBH on the results of the EGM.

“It’s fitting Australia’s biggest co-operative is the first to move across,” he said.

In a third, unrelated resolution, more than 700 votes of the 921 received were in favour of ratifying the appointment of Diane Smith-Gander as a CBH director.

Just 29 votes were against her appointment.

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