Wool growers have just over three weeks to make AWI review submissions

Terry Sim, April 11, 2018

EY’s Andrew Metcalfe

AUSTRALIA’S wool growers have just over three weeks to have their say in the independent review of levy-funded body Australian Wool Innovation.

Advisory firm EY yesterday announced on its website that the review’s submission deadline will be May 4 2018. Submissions can be made via the webpage:

Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud announced on February 27 that the review would be undertaken by EY. The review is being led by EY Australia’s Federal Government lead partner Andrew Metcalfe AO in accordance with the terms of reference outlined by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

Mr Metcalfe said the purpose of the independent review is to consider AWI’s performance against its stated objectives to ensure it is delivering for growers and community. He said the review will consider AWI’s delivery upon core objectives including research, development, extension and marketing services to woolgrowers, and other matters of public interest.

EY has also released a Focus Paper that detailed the ‘Questions that the Independent Review is asking…’. These included questions about AWI’s obligations under its current Statutory Funding Agreement with the Federal Government, its governance arrangements, planned outcomes, benefits to growers and engagement or consultation approach. The questions also seek growers’ views on whether AWI has implemented the recommendations of the 2012-2015 performance review and if the body collaborates with other research and development corporations.

The review will also ask whether the Corporation Act’s replaceable rules should apply under the AWI constitution and whether AWI’s employment practices are appropriate.

However, the list of key review questions notably does not directly seek grower feedback on the performance and conduct of AWI chairman Wal Merriman or the board in relation to the SFA or AWI’s governance and conflict of interest codes. Wool grower and Senate Estimates committee concerns over Mr Merriman’s behaviour — during director elections, in swearing at journalists and covertly observing a Merino breeders focus group behind a one-way mirror — preceded the current review’s establishment and the inclusion of the ‘other matters of public interest’ in the Terms of Reference. No discussion paper providing background information on the issues and events prompting the ‘other matters of public interest’ has been released by EY or the Federal Government.

EY yesterday welcomed submissions from all relevant stakeholders including:

  • AWI levy payers/wool growers
  • Industry associations
  • Research and Development Corporations
  • Commonwealth or State Government departments or agencies
  • Shearing entities
  • Early stage processors
  • Spinners and weavers
  • NGOs
  • Brands, retailers and associations

The review team will consult broadly with industry and help deliver a final report about AWI’s performance in relation to its stated objectives, EY said.

Mr Metcalfe indicated that the review was under way and that the review team were eager to receive submissions and comments on the terms of reference from industry participants.



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  1. Peter Small, April 14, 2018

    Rob, We should never give up. I have been chipping away at all this since the early 90’s, when I had the opportunity to engage in the textile trade, buying greasy wool at auction in Australia for the looms in Huddersfield.
    Frankly, it sickened me to see how wool growers’ scant gross income was taxed in the name of a levy, with much of it literally pissed up against the wall. It is still going on and eventually wool growers will wake up. A zero vote for the wool tax is in our hands, and is the answer.
    If wool growers can show the way, and my goodness they have been through enough to do it, then meat producers need to follow. My suggestion is don’t give up, keep your powder dry. The opportunity will come because there are a growing number of producers who realise the people elected to represent them are on a gravy train.

  2. Rob Moore, April 12, 2018

    Thanks Peter. While I am a “conservative”- I believe in a fair shake for all workers in the supply chains. John Anderson set this MLA abomination up in 1997. The “unseen” workers in the beef supply chain — the breeders like me — are forced to put $2000-$5000 a year into this “slush fund ” that is controlled by processors via their grain-fed feedlot cattle transaction levy contributions.
    I have evidence, that needs clarifying via the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), which casts doubt over whether these multinationals that own abattoirs do pay or are just claiming votes from the cattle transaction levy that they are meant to pass on from their direct consignment withholds (for the seller).
    I have sat opposite Senator Sterle (chairman) and Senator O’Sullivan on two of these Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee inquiries, four and five years ago. Also I was responsible for Mick Keogh getting the ACCC Ag gig, via my white paper submission to Joyce’s competitiveness inquiry and beef language reviews. Also I copped some ‘tender-bending’ corruption from the MLA trough-dwellers re my Primary Production Pricing plan to get farmgate competition. This tender came from Recommendation # 7 of that RRAT write-up, which originated from my submission and hearing in Rockhampton.
    So yes, it is political, and the problem is the ‘brain-dead’ National Party. The red team is worse of course, but that doesn’t make our lot any better. Only option I can see is to wind up my efforts and we will soon see if we are missed. No coming back though, so it will be too late for these useless politicians to reboot all these near dead industries.
    Maybe the plan is to hand them all to offshore interests? Sure is working from where I’m sitting.

  3. Peter Small, April 11, 2018

    You are completely correct Rob Moore. One organisation, funded by a statutory tax on gross proceeds, is as good as another. Statutory taxes on gross proceeds creates a honey pot that encourages corrupt behaviour.
    Making submissions to one inquiry or another is a complete waste of time. I know, I have tried. It is all a giant whitewash.
    What is needed is a courageous Minister who rids us of these statutory taxes forever and finds a market-based system to fund research.

  4. Rob Moore, April 11, 2018

    This is just a “Yes Minister” tick and flick episode, where a few consultant firms who have the “correct conclusions” ready before they are even “engaged” pick up a few hundred thousand dollars for their trouble.
    The only people who count in that above mentioned list are the AWI levy payers; not snotty ABC journalists, NGOs, federal or state government departments, industry associations nor R&D corporations. It is our money and unlike nearly all other compulsory levies, we get a say in the level and a pro-rata say based on the amount of $s put in.
    Having been in red meat as well for 40-plus yrs, it is a gutless “soft targeting bully” show to pick on AWI, whilst ignoring the glaringly corrupt and wasteful MLA and its church plate collection and processor-dominated governance.

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