NSW Farmers urges AWI to clear up review implementation plan

Sheep Central, October 26, 2018

NSW Farmers has welcomed a bipartisan approach to ensure Australian Wool Innovation implements all recommendations in its recent performance and governance review.

NSW Farmers’ Association today supported Minister Littleproud’s demand that AWI amend their implementation plan to be clearer and more detailed.

AWI last Friday submitted its implementation for the review’s 82 recommendations to the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. However, Mr Littleproud said the plan was “short on detail and vague” and it was not clear if AWI will implement, or agrees with, all of the review’s recommendations.

The minister has given AWI until Monday October 29 to explain its position in writing and make it clear to wool growers “that AWI’s position is to support the implementation of all of EY’s 82 recommendations.”

Mr Littleproud has said his opposition counterpart Shadow Agriculture Minister Joel Fitzgibbon agreed with his approach for all recommendations to be implemented.

The AWI board wants recommendations relating to implementing a 10-year director cap, a new independent director definition, a revised director candidate nomination process and improving election proxy transparency to go to shareholders. They encompass review recommendations 1.10.4, 1.11.3, 1.9.1, 1.9.10 and 1.12.1. The AWI leaders also told the senators the AWI board only agreed in principle to two BNC structure and process recommendations — 1.12.4 and 1.12.3.

However, Mr Littleproud has noted AWI intended to put to shareholders several review recommendations that EY did not intend for shareholder consideration. These include:

– enhancing the definition of director independence in the board charter (1.9.10)

– requiring board members to direct open proxies in accordance with Board Nomination Committee (BNC) recommendations in at director elections (1.12.1)

– restriction on board members campaigning for director nominees and former members of the BNC nominating as directors for at least three years (1.12.4)

Recommendations 1.12.1 and 1.12.4 also include that updates to the rules and procedures governing the election of directors  and the BNC charter should reflect these changes.

Important to get implementation plan correct – NSW Farmers

Chair of the NSW Farmers’ Wool Committee Andrew Wood stressed the importance of getting the implementation plan correct, as the change will impact how AWI is governed and operates.

“The 82 recommendations address areas for improvement that were identified through an independent performance and governance review of AWI.

“It is vital that the changes needed are implemented promptly,” Mr Wood said.

“The implementation plan cannot be vague or short of detail. It must clearly communicate to all stakeholders how the EY recommendations will be adopted.

“Wool growers fund the operations of AWI through the levy. We need clarity on when these changes will occur and they need to be completed soon,” he said.

“It is disappointing that the initial plan did not meet Minister Littleproud’s expectation. However we welcome the strong response from the Minister to demand improvements.”.

The association urged AWI to provide the department with adequate supplementary information by Monday.

“It is disappointing this process has been prolonged.

“The report was released in July and woolgrowers are still in the dark about how AWI plans to action the seven outstanding recommendations” Mr Wood said.

“We welcome the bipartisan approach of Minister Littleproud and Shadow Minister Fitzgibbon to drive AWI to implement the changes as the EY review directed.”

Click here to read the AWI review recommendation implementation plan submitted to Mr Littleproud and tabled in a Senate Estimates hearing on October 22.


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