AWI wants 2pc levy kept

Headshot of Bob Garnant
Bob GarnantThe West Australian

Woolgrowers have been urged to support a continued 2 per cent wool levy for the next three years.

Australian Wool Innovation last week launched this year's WoolPoll, which asks levy payers to determine the rate to be paid for industry R&D and marketing activities for three years at a time.

AWI chief executive Stuart McCullough, who spoke at the Melbourne launch of this year's WoolPoll, said the current 2 per cent wool levy should be retained for the next period to ensure the continuation of outcomes achieved over the past three years.

Growers will be able to vote on what level of levy they want via the poll, with options set at 0 per cent, 1 per cent, 2 per cent, 2.5 per cent or 3 per cent.

Mr McCullough said the Federal Government's co-contribution was maximised for matching R&D at the 2 per cent levy rate.

"Below this rate, growers are not optimising the funds the Government will contribute to the industry," he said.

WoolPoll 2015 panel chairman Will Roberts said the recent Senate inquiry into agricultural levies claimed a best practice levy model was underpinned by three fundamental principles - the ability for growers to influence; accountability; and transparency.

"We are one of the few industries where every levy payer is provided the regular opportunity to directly influence the levy rate," he said.

"The WoolPoll Panel is very keen to see every levy payer has their say."

A total of 23 WoolPoll workshops will be held around the country during the voting period to enable woolgrowers to come and speak directly with AWI and WoolPoll panel members.

All eligible levy payers - those who have paid at least $100 worth of wool levies over the past three years - are able to vote when WoolPoll opens on Monday, September 14.

Voting closes on Friday, October 30.

WAFarmers has reminded woolgrowers of the importance of taking part in the vote.

Its wool section president Ed Rogister said voting was a way of effectively communicating to the AWI board.

"Voter participation has been disappointing in the past and our voices are not getting through to AWI's board," he said.

WoolProducers Australia vice-president Ed Storey was disappointed a 1.5 per cent levy was not included among the options.

"It is a reasonable alternative that enables growers the opportunity to reduce the amount of levies paid without having to make the drastic decision to halve the current levy revenue," he said.

"Whilst very supportive of the process that allows wool growers to vote on such an important decision, the questions around transparency of the process need to be asked - particularly when, according to AWI, the cost to growers to conduct the WoolPoll is $1.4 million," he said.

But Mr McCullough said a 1.5 per cent levy would not maximise research and development-matching government funding.

"If we relinquish any government funding, we will never get it back," he said.

AWI's WoolPoll Roadshows in WA take place next Monday at Katanning Leisure Centre, followed by Lake King Tavern Motel on Tuesday and Esperance Yacht Club on Wednesday - meetings are from 8 to 11am at all locations.

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