NEW South Wales wool grower Chick Olsson is seeking a review by the Federal Government of his rejected 2019 nomination for the Australian Wool Innovation board.
The former AWI board member and current director of the Australian Wool Growers Association Chick Olsson last year had his nomination form rejected by AWI due to inadequate shareholder signatures.
Mr Olsson believes he had 99 verified signatures of the 100 required but had his nomination prematurely rejected without verification of further shareholders among the 134 who had supported his candidature.
In a letter sent late last month to Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud, Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment Andrew Metcalfe and Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie, Mr Olsson outlines what he believes were potential breaches of the AWI board election process.
An AWI spokesperson told Sheep Central in October last year that “additional and ongoing support was provided to him (Mr Ollson) which was over and above the support required or requested by other candidates. See Chick tells Australian Wool Innovation he is 99 not out.
However, Mr Olsson still feels he was obstructed in standing, due to his large base of wool grower support and a previously joint ticket, initially allowed, but then disallowed by AWI. He also believes it is very difficult and highly unlikely that fresh professional board talent will stand for the AWI board with the current AWI electoral system.
“I believe I should have been allowed to stand and then allow woolgrowers to decide if I was a suitable candidate.
“I am seeking your guidance as to what next steps are needed to investigate these processes that have led me to write this letter,” Mr Olsson said in his letter to the federal leaders.
Mr Olsson said he has not had a reply to his letter, but regardless of the response, he wants any approved signatures of shareholders to count towards his tally when he stands for the AWI board next year.
“I don’t want to have to start again, they are still in play as far as I am concerned.”
Mr Olsson believes there are no regulations preventing the signatures being used in a future nomination attempt.
“It is not going to go away, I am not going to give up on this.”
Why is Mr Olsson persisting?
Referencing the polarising impact of American president Donald Trump on US voters, the mulesing supporter and co-creator of the pain relief product Tri-Solfen said the wool industry must be united on issues of animal welfare and mulesing.
“It’s the same with wool, we’ve got to unite our nation and stop this clear divide and say we are all ethical producers.
“This idea that wool is sustainable because it is non-mulesed is just nonsense, absolute nonsense,” he said.
Mr Olsson said sheep breeders who have told animal rights bodies that the entire Australian sheep flock can be changed to end mulesing genetically in a few years are not helping the industry.
“Every wool producer in Australia is ethical, because wool is ethical.”
Click here to read Mr Olsson’s letter.