PEAK wool grower body WoolProducers Australia is advising growers to use all available options in its campaign to facilitate change on the Australian Wool Innovation board.
WPA has told growers they are able to vote for and against candidates in the 2019 director election and can even change their mind before the ballot closes on November 22.
The grower body has also advised shareholders not to appoint AWI chair Colette Garnsey as their proxy, in direct opposition to AWI’s decision to share undirected proxies among its preferred candidates – re-standing directors Wal Merriman and David Webster, and NSW veterinarian Dr Michelle Humphries.
WPA said with a number of issues currently affecting the industry, including low supply, animal welfare and the Federal Government review into all agricultural research and development corporations, this year’s director election is crucial for the future direction and function of AWI.
WoolProducers president Ed Storey said it is imperative that all AWI shareholders take the time to vote in this year’s election to determine how they want their compulsorily funded RDC to operate going forward.
“Unlike other public companies, AWI shareholders cannot sell their shares if they are unhappy with the performance of the company, they are in effect compulsory shareholders who are afforded very little say, which is why this vote is so important,” he said.
WoolProducers is recommending that registered shareholders vote for Dr Philip Holmes, Dr Janelle Hocking-Edwards and Noel Henderson. The other candidates in the election NSW wool grower Paul Cocking and NSW Merino breeder George Falkiner.
WPA said if shareholders are unable to attend AWI’s annual general meeting in Sydney on 22 November there are a number of ways for shareholders to have their say, including by post, fax and online.
“WoolProducers understands that the majority of shareholders cannot attend the AWI AGM but there are avenues to ensure that their voice is heard,” Mr Storey said.
When casting their votes on all of the four motions WoolProducers has urged shareholders consider not leaving their proxies open, taking time to fill out how their vote will be counted or appointing a proxy.
Mr Storey said he will take proxies and these will be allocated in favour of the three candidates — Holmes, Hocking-Edwards and Henderson.
The WPA president will vote and direct proxies in favour of agenda Item 2 – changes to constitution – and for agenda Item 3 – board size limit.
WPA said if shareholders are seeking change to the function of AWI, they should not appoint the AWI chair as proxy.
Shareholders should also consider actively voting against candidates. If a candidate receives more ‘Against’ votes that ‘For’ votes, that candidate cannot be elected even if that candidate has more ‘For’ votes than other candidates;
WPA said if shareholders have already voted, but have changed their mind, they can log onto Link Market Services (linkmarketservices.com.au), enter their Shareholder Reference Number and vote electronically. This vote will override any other form of voting.
WPA said registered shareholders should have received their voting papers in the mail or for those that have elected to receive their voting pack electronically, they should have received them on 21 October.
“If you have not received your voting papers please contact Link Marketing Services on 1800 113 373, to ensure that your voice is heard,” Mr Storey said.
WoolProducers thanked all election candidates, who are obviously passionate about the Australian wool industry, for putting their name forward for the AWI director election, in acknowledgement of what can be a very political process. All votes, other than those attending the AGM, must be received by the company no later than 10am (EDST) on Wednesday, 20 November.