NSW grower dropped from wool body board

Terry Sim, November 3, 2021

Former AWGA director Robert Ingram

AUSTRALIAN Wool Growers Association directors have dropped New South Wales wool grower Robert Ingram from their board.

In a surprise move, at AWGA’s annual general meeting last Thursday, all board positions, including those of five new directors appointed in the past three months, were declared vacant by secretary Sam Stephens.

However, Mr Ingram was the only board member of the nine directors at the AGM on October 28 who did not receive a second to a motion for him to be re-appointed.

Former AWGA director Chick Olsson resigned at the end of the meeting because he is standing in the AWI election, as did director/secretary/treasurer and chief executive officer Sam Stephens. NSW grower Robert McBride was re-elected chairman unopposed, with Angela Byron as vice-president and Emily Riggs as secretary-treasurer.

Mr Ingram had served on the AWGA board for seven years and was the body’s representative on Australian Wool Innovation’s Wool Industry Consultative Panel for about three years.

Sheep Central has been told by Mr Ingram that differences between himself and other directors on animal welfare policy, media statements and the recent board appointments process, led to an email request for him to resign before the AGM.

Mr Ingram has also been instrumental in the AWI election campaign of candidates Michael Field and Steven Read on a platform that advocates AWI industry programs to assist growers to phase out mulesing. Mr Olsson is standing for the AWI board on a pro-mulesing platform.

After the AGM last week, Mr McBride said AWGA had been acting under a constitution that was being updated.

“I’ve got it, but we are trying to update it.”

Mr McBride said it was correct that Mr Ingram failed to get sufficient support to get back on the AWGA board due to a series of issues, but he could not say why all board seats were declared vacant at the AGM.

Mr McBride said he did not know how many financial members AWGA had. Unlike other industry bodies on the WICP, AWGA has also continually refused to provide its membership numbers when asked by AWI. AWGA has maintained that it is not a membership-based organisation, but a group of diverse wool producers acting independently for the industry.

Mr Ingram said he had never been told how many financial members AWGA had.

“I’ve never seen a membership list.”

The current AWGA directors are Mr McBride, former AWI director and NSW grower Paul Cocking, animal health academic Dr Sabrina Lomax, South Australian grower Monica Ley, Ms Byron and SA fashion designer Emily Riggs. All except Mr McBride were appointed to the board this year.

Sheep Central is awaiting responses from AWGA on numerous questions concerning its constitution, director election processes and membership, but former director Mr Olsson has said he needed time to obtain legal advice before responding next week.

An Australian Securities and Investment Commission spokesman said ASIC does not require companies to lodge their company constitutions and AWGA’s constitution has not been filed with it.

The spokesman said companies who have corporate constitutions must keep them in their own records. A company must provide a current copy of the constitution to any member who requests it within seven days. If a fee is charged, the constitution must be provided within seven days of payment.

WoolProducers Australia chief executive officer Jo Hall said WPA is not interested in AWGA’s internal operations.

“But there have been numerous occasions, including requests through the WICP process, to seek membership numbers of all WICP bodies, and AWGA has not been forthcoming about who they represent, which leads to questions about (the) transparency of their operations.”



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your comment will not appear until it has been moderated.
Contributions that contravene our Comments Policy will not be published.


  1. Donald Cameron, November 4, 2021

    What sort of tinpot outfit is AWGA?
    Why does AWGA refuse to divulge membership numbers?
    Is it true that AWGA membership has fallen below 30 members?

    If so, it’s all foam no beer and should not be seen as speaking on behalf of a broad range of wool growers.

    Dumping an anti-mulesing director after disagreeing with his animal welfare views casts a shadow over AWGA and exposes this outfit to further scrutiny. This leads one to strongly suspect that the rest of the directors are pro-mulesing.

    One AWGA director is an animal health academic, but AWGA needs an animal welfare academic.

    I am guessing that PETA thinks AWGA is now little more than a pro-mulesing lobby group with little credibility and even less importance, given that no evidence has been produced that AWGA consists of more than its nine-member board.

  2. Johann Schroder, November 4, 2021

    When will someone point out that the emperor is not wearing any clothes? If being an AWI board member on the pro-mulesing platform, whilst being a co-developer/owner of Tri-Solfen — the open wound anaesthetic disinfectant — wouldn’t constitute a conflict of interest, what would?

    • Dirk Stevens, November 5, 2021

      Well halle-bloody-lujah Johann Schroder, it’s been standing out like a pair of poodle’s gonads for months. I have been waiting for someone to mention it. The good old wool industry where vested interests are considered the normal. Let’s stop recycling the same old Mr Knowledgables and encourage some younger more progressive thinkers into these positions.

Get Sheep Central's news headlines emailed to you -