NFF backs ex-CEO’s record

Rueben HaleCountryman

National Farmers’ Federation president Brent Finlay has rejected sacking rumours behind last week’s shock departure of chief executive Simon Talbot, as mere “innuendo and scuttlebutt”.

Mr Talbot, who started as NFF chief executive in late October, 2014, was replaced last week, with the appointment of Tony Mahar as the organisation’s incoming chief executive.

Rumours have circulated Mr Talbot had struggled in the position over his 18-month tenure and the board had either encouraged him to resign or sacked him.

But Mr Finlay reaffirmed there was no untoward circumstances surrounding Mr Talbot’s shock departure and was extremely disappointed with the rumours circulating in the media to the contrary.

“The information gathered by certain quarters of the media regarding Mr Talbot’s departure was accumulated without authority and simply wasn’t factual and it is extremely disappointing,” Mr Finlay said.

He said Mr Talbot’s decision to leave was entirely his own.

“Simon has a young family and his new role at the head of Coles public affairs will be largely based in NSW,” he said.

“He also comes from a corporate background, so I think the decision to move from NFF to this high profile position will be a good one for him.”

Mr Finlay said he looks forward to Mr Mahar officially starting his appointment in mid-March.

“Tony has an outstanding track record across economics, trade and broader agricultural policy and he has been one of the key drivers in setting a new clear and progressive strategic direction for the organisation and how it will best represent the Australian agriculture industry,” he said.

“He has some of the nation’s best skills across agriculture and economics and, due to his knowledge and experience, is undoubtedly the best person to lead the NFF and drive the implementation of the organisation’s future strategy in what is an exciting growth stage for both our organisation and the broader industry.”

In another key announcement chief executive of the NSW Farmers’ Association Matt Brand has been seconded on a part-time basis to the position of NFF’s executive director of integration and digital.

Mr Brand will steer the next stage of the NFF’s Project Streamline and Strengthen which has been has been developed to strengthen agricultural representation, remove duplicated structures and to streamline resources to ensure a stronger, more effective voice for farmers across Australia.

It has been overwhelmingly endorsed by the NFF’s member organisations and will also include the NFF’s innovative new digital platform.

“Matt’s experience in agricultural advocacy, as well as previous marketing and commercial roles, makes him ideally qualified to cement the new digital platform, an initiative that has the potential to draw primary producers from across Australia together like never before,” Mr Finlay said.

“The platform will form the centrepiece of our new unified approach to national farmer representation and will also offer valuable commercial incentives to our grass-roots farmer members.

“Tony and Matt have already worked closely together on the PSS process and will continue to work collaboratively to create a more unified organisation that is an effective and efficient model delivering greater benefits to Australian agriculture.”

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