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New Minister urged to act fast on wool board

Bob GarnantCountryman
Ernst and Young’s independent industry assessment put forward 82 proposals following a review of AWI’s performance and governance almost two years ago.
Camera IconErnst and Young’s independent industry assessment put forward 82 proposals following a review of AWI’s performance and governance almost two years ago. Credit: Danella Bevis/Countryman

The nation’s top woolgrower body is urging newly appointed Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud to help quickly implement a thorough to-do list addressing Australian Wool Innovation’s corporate governance.

Ernst and Young’s independent industry assessment put forward 82 proposals following a review of AWI’s performance and governance almost two years ago.

Recommendations included having a skills-based board, improving transparency at board elections, and having code-of-conduct breaches independently investigated.

It also proposed maximum board terms of 10 years.

After Mr Littleproud, below, replaced Bridget McKenzie as Agriculture Minister last week, WoolProducers chief executive Ed Storey welcomed the appointment.

“Minister Littleproud has an in-depth knowledge of issues facing agriculture and his appointment sees stability in the portfolio, as well as continuity across the portfolios of drought and emergency management,” he said.

However, Mr Storey said re-negotiating AWI’s Statutory Funding Agreement and adopting the EY review’s 82 recommendations was essential.

“The re-negotiation of AWI’s Statutory Funding Agreement must also be considered holistically by Minister Littleproud with the interests of levy payers in mind,” he said.

“We are also well aware of Minister Littleproud’s previous expectations regarding the implementation of the 82 recommendations of the 2018 Review of AWI Performance and Governance by Ernst and Young.

“(We) want these finalised in the first half of the year.”

The review concluded there was strong support from woolgrowers for marketing and research and development investments, but the industry had differing opinions about how best to invest funds.

After the EY review’s findings were made public in July, 2018, Mr Littleproud — who was agriculture minister at the time — said AWI had helped the nation’s woolgrowers, but had areas to improve.

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