AUSTRALIAN Wool Innovation is holding firm on not releasing the results of the 2018 WoolPoll until its annual general meeting on November 23.
AWI’s WoolPoll website last week listed that 8771 levy payers, about 18 percent of 47,107 eligible voters, had voted in the WoolPoll ballot. However, Sheep Central believes more votes were cast in the last week before the ballot closed at 5pm AEST on 2 November.
It is believed that fewer growers cast votes in the 2018 ballot than in the 2015 WoolPoll, raising the possibility that Link Market Services might go to preferences for a clear result from the five options offered to growers – zero, 1.5pc, 2pc, 2.5pc and 3pc. Just over 50pc of eligible votes were cast in the 2015 ballot.
Throughout the 2018 WoolPoll voting period, the WoolPoll panel received weekly updates on the number of voters had voted in which state and Sheep Central was told no other details were available to the panel, the AWI executive nor board members.
AWI, WoolProducers Australia and the Australian Wool Growers Association this week declined to comment on what the low voter turnout reflected, although some Sheep Central readers have speculated in comments posted on the website.
In a general comment defending AWI and chairman Wal Merriman, David Everist said the now closed WoolPoll “could indicate a level of apathy in the wool industry or maybe it could be taken as a vote of confidence in the current policies of AWI and its leadership.”
Another AWI supporter, Don Lawson, said the small turnout in the WoolPoll “would indicate that the silent majority are happy with the current prices of sheep products and don’t want change.”
Sheep Central asked AWI chief executive officer Stuart McCullough if he has had any feedback from growers who had not voted. He was also asked if he believed the low WoolPoll voter turn-out is an indication that most growers were happy with the current 2pc levy or if it represented a protest against AWI’s conduct, governance or performance. Mr McCullough did not answer these questions nor whether he believed a low WoolPoll voter turn-out would be justification for Minister Littleproud to step in and set a levy independent of the actual 2018 WoolPoll ballot result. A statement from AWI this week said the levy poll must be conducted in accordance with the Wool Services Privatisation (Wool Levy Poll) Regulations 2003 which, with respect to counting the votes, is being conducted by the Returning Officer – Link Market Services.
“AWI plans to announce the outcome of WoolPoll 2018 at its AGM on 23 November in Sydney,” the statement said.