WESTERN Australia’s Pastoralists and Grazier Association has come out in support of a move to end Australian Wool Innovation spending on its digital information and wool trading platform WoolQ.
New South Wales wool grower Robert Ingram sought to put a resolution to the 2020 AWI annual general meeting to end AWI’s WoolQ investment and order its sale.
However, AWI has rejected the motion due to inadequate notice and the lack of 100 supporting shareholder signatures as required under AWI’s Constitution and the Corporations Act.
PGA Western Beef and Sheep Producers Committee chairman Chris Patmore said PGA did not believe Australian Wool Innovation should be investing in WoolQ.
“We are not concerned about how they go about stopping it, we are just appealing to the board to stop spending any more money on Wool Q and to sell it, or abandon it.
“I think it just a matter of more voices at this stage, we don’t have any (AWI) director elections until next year and there may be an opportunity there,” he said.
“But at this stage it is just a matter of the more voices AWI hears opposing WoolQ, the more inclined they are to listen.”
Mr Patmore said growers are already voting with their feet by not using the WoolQ platform.
“They are not meeting market failure and they’re providing a service that is already freely available through private enterprise,” he said.
Mr Patmore said he registered on WoolQ.
“I found that a lot of the information I was able to get from there is also available from any broker.
“And the information on there that my broker couldn’t provide, I didn’t want it or need it,” he said.
“I couldn’t see how it was going to help my business.”
Mr Patmore said he was a member of AWI’s Woolgrower Consultation Group and has also attended Woolgrower Industry Consultation Panel meetings on behalf of PGA.
He has been told that AWI has spent from $5-$7 million on WoolQ, which could have been more effectively used to benefit growers elsewhere.
“Whatever has been spent to date is academic really; it doesn’t really matter – the fact that levy payer money has been spent on something AWI should not be involved in is the main concern.”
Mr Patmore believed WoolQ was conceived to reduce the dominance of China in buying Australia’s wool.
“But it has morphed into something that is totally different to that.
“It has morphed into a selling platform in opposition to private enterprise.”
WoolQ had not addressed its original intent “and I don’t think it should do either,” Mr Patmore said.
“I don’t we should be trying to interfere in the marketplace at all.”
WoolQ also had not lowered the wool-selling costs of growers, he said.
“We are not against the electronic selling wool or any of the digital platforms.
“In fact, we are very much in favour of it; it’s just that AWI and our levy money shouldn’t be put toward it.”