Turton eyes on CBH board

Rueben HaleThe West Australian

York grain grower and sheep producer Rhys Turton has thrown his hat into the ring as a possible contender for the CBH board.

Mr Turton told the _Countryman _of his considerations a week after independent board member Samantha Tough, the second woman director in CBH's 81-year history, left after revelations of a power struggle on a divided board.

The _Countryman _ understands Ms Tough was concerned over the $3 billion-dollar co-operative's locally focused direction and was in favour of a smaller board with a more even balance of grower and independent directors.

If Mr Turton decides to stand he will be challenging incumbent and Pingelly grain and livestock producer John Hassell.

Mr Hassell was elected to the CBH Group board of directors in 2009, is a member of the board's audit and risk management committee and is the group's representative on the Co-operatives WA Council.

Mr Turton is no stranger to the boardroom, with four years as a director of United Farmers and six years with New Zealand-based Ravensdown.

"My view as a grower is that CBH should be kept in a position to supply grain to lucrative markets around the world," he said.

"My current concern for CBH as a grower is making sure we maintain value for our growers now, five years from now and well into the future.

"CBH logistically is a fantastic organisation but I am not sure I am seeing how the long-term future is being addressed."

Mr Turton said he felt there was division about the co-opertative's direction among its 4300 members.

"Some say the organisation should not look out of our local area and others are looking further abroad," he said.

"But my personal view is that CBH is in an expanding industry for the State and an organisation like CBH, representing around 50 per cent of growers, has the power to be an effective player on the world market."

Mr Turton said he believed there was an important role for independent directors to have a significant input into CBH's future operations.

"The board should be composed of a majority of grower directors, but at least one-third of the directors should come from other parts of industry," he said.

"I believe there are plenty of growers with enough talent to successfully direct CBH.

"However, the independent directors need to bring business, marketing, operational, accounting and auditing skill sets to the table as well."

Nominations for the 2015 CBH Group member director elections are open and will close at noon on Monday, January 5.

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