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AWI seeks 2pc levy for marketing in WoolPoll 2015

Terry Sim, August 28, 2015
AWI CEO Stuart McCullough

AWI chief executive officer Stuart McCullough

AUSTRALIA’S woolgrowers should continue to contribute a 2 percent levy on wool sales to maintain marketing momentum, Australian Wool Innovation chief executive officer Stuart McCullough said.

Mr McCullough and WoolPoll 2015 panel chairman Will Roberts today released the five levy options woolgrowers will consider in the ballot – zero, 1pc, 2pc, 2.5pc and 3pc – at a launch luncheon at the Rural Press Club of Victoria.

The AWI CEO said the AWI board will be seeking support from woolgrowers for the 2pc option in the coming WoolPoll 2015 ballot.

“The board has been modelling this for a little while and most of their concerns have been around the world’s economy at the moment.”

He said the world’s consumers were being “a bit spooked” by world events such as the Greek economic crisis and its potential impact on Europe.

“That puts Europe on a knife edge – France is in poor shape, Italy is in poor shape, Spain is in poor shape and Greece is in really poor shape, Portugal is in poor shape.

“So we are not that confident about Europe and we are not confident about the United States,” he said.

“The United States has been trying to emerge out of this recession and they are slowly coming out,” he said.

“But you get good numbers and bad numbers, that’s a concern.”

Mr McCullough said even though Asia promised 7pc growth, it looks like it is going to be almost half that.

“So you need something firing.”

The AWI board was very concerned about the potential for woolgrowers to withdraw the levy or even opt for an option lower than 2pc, he said.

“We think now is the time we’ve got to up the ante in terms of promoting our fibre.

“When things are tougher, when the consumer is spooked, when they are not pulling their wallets out easily, you’ve got to ratchet it up.”

Mr McCullough the AWI board also wanted support for a 2pc levy because it wanted to attract the “full matching” funds from the Federal Government.

“Once that is done away with, you never get that back.”

“Certainly we want to maximise the cap as to the amount of matching money we get for research and development,” he said.

“At the moment it is about $13 million and we felt that anything even attempted under that would be lost and lost forever.”

WoolPoll 2015 voting opens on September 4 and closes on October 30. The results will be announced on November 20 at the AWI annual general meeting.

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