Sheep Producers Australia appoints two independent directors

Sheep Central, January 17, 2018

New SPA executive chair Chris Mirams.

SHEEP Producers Australia has appointed two independent directors to its skills-based board for three-year terms.

Agricultural consultant Chris Mirams has been appointed executive chair and Dr Anne Astin will act as an independent, non-executive director, and will also chair SPA’s Audit and Risk Committee.

SPA president Allan Piggott said as SPA bedded down its new processes as a company limited by guarantee, the board felt it was integral that it had input from skilled governance professionals with experience in similar organisations.

Mr Piggott said Mr Mirams will transition to the role of SPA’s independent chair in the future and manage the establishment and smooth operation of the body’s new governance processes. The executive chair will work with former Agforce Queensland employee Sue Dillon, who has been seconded for six months from Meat & Livestock Australia to the role of General Manager – Policy and Projects, and SPA’s existing policy team while the search for a new chief executive officer is conducted.

SPA’s new constitution outlines that the board can comprise up to nine directors – seven appointed through member elections following a selection process and two independent, board-appointed directors to fill any skills or knowledge gaps.

Mr Mirams has 30 years’ experience in farm management and has served in senior governance roles in a range of organisations including MLA and its subsidiary companies, the Graham Centre in NSW, and the Holbrook Landcare Network. Sheep Producers Australia said be brings knowledge in governance, finance, sheep production systems, research and the application of new technologies on-farm to combine with his leadership and organisational development skills.

Astin brings governance experience

Dr Anne Astin

Dr Astin brings extensive governance experience and currently chairs the Food Agility Co-operative Research Centre, Sir William Angliss Institute of TAFE and Dairy Food Safety Victoria, SPA said. She was an inaugural independent director when Australian Dairyfarmers changed its governance model to a company limited by guarantee – as SPA did in November – and is the immediate past chair and president of the Australian Institute of Food Science and Technology.

Mr Mirams said he was looking forward to working with the SPA team and providing leadership in the operation of the new constitution and governance structure.

“The executive chair role is quite hands-on now in rolling out the new governance structure and processes of the organisation and it is exciting to be involved at the beginning of what is a great change for the Australian sheep industry,” he said.

“I’m looking forward to working with staff and members during quite a defining period for SPA in ensuring we create an environment where we can generate outcomes for producers and effectively advocate on their behalf.”

Dr Astin anticipated her expertise from the similar governance transition period at Australian Dairyfarmers would be relevant to the SPA board.

“It really is an exciting opportunity to help shape and build a new business model and a new governance structure for the organisation.

“It’s vital that in such an important time there is contemporary thinking in its governance to benefit the industry and the members so I’m looking forward to being part of that and willing to contribute significantly.”

Mr Mirams and Dr Astin join member-elected directors Mr Piggott, Michael Craig, Jamie Heinrich, Ian McColl and Bindi Murray on the SPA board. For more information about the recent governance changes at SPA, download the SPA Fact Sheet.

Source: Sheep producers Australia.


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  1. Andrew Farran, January 17, 2018

    One must have missed something on the way. I had been aware for some time of discussions about a need for a representative group to cover the sheep meat industry – in MLA, AWI and WoolProducers Australia? This move seems to have slopped through somewhat, though I assume it is an MLA offshoot, as there is reference to a tie up with NFF groups and derivatives thereof. The website speaks of “Your Industry”, “Your Voice”, but am not sure what the “your” in this refers to. It appears to have gone through not only the formative processes but also an AGM and elections, including the votes of independent members. Where and how do the latter come about? Interesting. I don’t recall WPA having much to say about this at any stage. So we have yet another industry group covering various, overlapping areas. Even more interesting.

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