Growers’ group backs board move

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The wool industry has opened up to the prospects of fresh faces on the AWI board with two new candidates vying for a seat as shareholders go to the polls to make their votes count.
Camera IconThe wool industry has opened up to the prospects of fresh faces on the AWI board with two new candidates vying for a seat as shareholders go to the polls to make their votes count. Credit: Bob Garnant/Countryman, Bob Garnant

WoolProducers Australia has thrown its support behind a push to get two incumbent and two new directors elected to the Australian Wool Innovation board.

The woolgrowers’ advocacy group this week announced it would support the board nomination committee’s independent, non-binding recommendation at this year’s AWI director elections.

With three spots up for grabs and seven candidates, WoolProducers and the board nomination committee have urged AWI shareholders to vote for incumbents Jock Laurie and Don Macdonald, along with new candidates Georgia Hack and Steven Read.

WoolProducers Australia has also asked shareholders to consider Michael Field.

Comparatively, AWI’s board announced this month open proxies directed to the chair would be redirected to three candidates — Mr Laurie, Mr Macdonald and Ms Hack.

The AWI board made a collective decision it would only recommend three director candidates, equal to the number of vacancies.

Three board positions became available after James Morgan and Noel Henderson confirmed they were not seeking re-election and Colette Garnsey announced she would retire in March.

The peak wool body’s president Ed Storey said he encouraged all AWI shareholders to make their vote count and not leave proxies undirected.

Mr Storey said WoolProducers undertook a rigorous process and sought the views of each of the seven candidates on a range of issues.

He said the organisation took a “principled and merit-based approach to its decision”, with consideration given to the opportunity for some board renewal, supply-chain knowledge, corporate governance and business acumen skills.

“We were very pleased to see the candidate responses and we believe our industry is fortunate to have such a diverse field of quality candidates that have put themselves forward for election,” Mr Storey said.

Mr Storey said his organisation believed that all of the recommended candidates offered different perspectives and skills that would help position the industry into the future.

“In a post-pandemic world, we need to have an agile and responsive (AWI) board to take our industry forward, not get bogged down in history and domestic politics whilst also operating in an accountable and transparent manner,” he said.

Mr Storey said the AWI director elections were an opportunity for shareholders to have their say on who would best serve the wool industry in the challenging and evolving environment that the industry was operating in.

“While production knowledge is an essential skill to have on the board of AWI, WoolProducers believes that existing directors of AWI adequately address these requirements,” he said.

“We would like to see some board renewal to ensure that there is appropriate knowledge of the other important facets or our global supply chain and believe that we can work constructively with the successful candidates of our recommended nominees.

“WoolProducers thanks all candidates, who are obviously passionate about the Australian wool industry, for putting their name forward for the AWI director election and wish them every success.”

Board candidate voting papers were mailed to shareholders on October 12 and emailed on October 13.

The results of the director election will be announced at the AWI AGM on Friday, November 19.

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