Wool growers urged to vote, and preferentially, in WoolPoll 2018 ballot

Terry Sim, October 8, 2018

AUSTRALIA’S wool growers are being urged to vote in the 2018 WoolPoll and to make their choices carefully using the optional preferential voting system.

Only 3493 of the eligible 47,107 eligible Australian Wool Innovation levy payers have voted since voting opened on 17 September, according to the WoolPoll website

Anyone who has paid at least $100 worth of wool levies over the past three years is eligible to vote in WoolPoll until voting closes on Friday, 2 November. Levy payers are being asked to preferentially vote for five options 0. 1.5 percent, 2pc, 2.5pc and 3pc. They can vote online at, via post or by fax.

WoolPoll panel chairman Sydney Lawrie said he was not concerned about the number of growers who have voted since polling opened. He said voters receiving their ballot papers and voter information memorandum might have only had the paperwork for 1.5 weeks.

“It is early days, we’ve got plenty of marketing going out.

”We’ve engaged with them, we are at industry events and AWI is promoting it at all their events.”

However, he encouraged all eligible wool growers to take the time to consider the WoolPoll information provided in the memorandum and to make an informed decision about the future funding of the Australian wool industry. If you haven’t received your voter information kit contact Link Marketing Services on 1800 990 365, he advised in a release last week.

“Don’t leave it to others to decide, or make the mistake of thinking your view doesn’t matter. “Whether you produce ten bales or one thousand, we need you to have your say.”

Mr Lawrie said voting preferentially in WoolPoll is up to the individual wool grower.

“It makes it a lot better doesn’t it? It gives it a bit more depth.”

However, WoolPoll panel member and WoolProducers Australian vice president Ed Storey said it was important that growers voted preferentially.

On the WoolPoll ballot paper, shareholders can place the number 1 in the box of their first preference, but they can also complete their paper by placing numbers in the remaining four boxes in order of their preferences, ie 2, 3, 4 and 5, with 5 being their last preference.

Votes in WoolPoll 2018 will be counted using an optional preferential voting system to ensure that the outcome satisfies the greatest number of levy payers. This means that, if none of the five levy rates achieves 50pc or more first preference votes, levy payers who voted for the least preferred option will have their votes allocated to their second preferences. Reallocating preferences continues until one of the levy rates reaches a majority of votes counted.

“The bottom number of votes each time drops out until you have a majority.

“If you don’t exercise your preferences, you run the risk of your vote not counting at all: it’s just like a state election,” Mr Storey said.

“I’m annoyed there is not much media about WoolPoll’s optional preferential voting system.”

He said if growers voted for the 0 option and did not also vote preferentially, based on past experience, their vote would not count.

“If you don’t like 2pc and you vote 0, and you do nothing else, you’ve actually helped 2pc get up.”

Mr Storey highlighted the importance of the WoolPoll optional preferential voting system in a Twitter post video last week.

WoolPoll option lobbying continues

Peak wool grower body WoolProducers Australia and the Australian Wool Growers Association are advising growers to vote for 1.5pc. WPA today again urged wool growers to vote in WoolPoll, reiterating its 1.5pc result preference following recent support for the 2pc option. AWGA has also listed on its website its preferential voting preferences – click here for more details.

AWI is asking growers to continue to pay a 2pc levy on their gross wool cheques, claiming in a voter information memorandum that this will build the company’s capacity to deliver more through current core R&D and marketing programs. The company also planned to draw down on its discretionary reserve to invest in a new automated wool harvesting system strategy and possibly invest in other major areas. Retaining the 2pc levy would also allow AWI to maintain its forward contracts, operating, emergency animal and discretionary reserves at “a responsible level,” the company has said.

Mr Lawrie said wool growers should be focussed the future sustainability of the industry.

“WoolPoll is an opportunity for wool growers to directly influence how much we want to invest in research, development and marketing for the Australian wool industry through Australian Wool Innovation and voting is now open for a limited time.

“We all agree that wool prices have been good, but now is not the time to take our eye off the ball.”

In a letter to the editor distributed today, WPA president Richard Halliday said according to the WoolPoll Voter Information Memorandum, 1.5pc offers projected annual income of $85.8-$88 million per year for the next three years. When considered in the context of the last three financial years when AWI expended $70-$88M, the funds generated by a 1.5pc levy is ample money for current business and investment in relevant new areas.

“By voting 2pc you are voting for an annual expenditure of $110 million for the next three years, which represents a staggering increase of over 40pc on the average of the past three years.

“WPA believes this is too much money to spend and we cannot stand for wastage of growers’ money,” he said.

SA Merino stud breeder supports AWI’s 2pc preference

In response to media coverage of Agriculture Minister David Littleproud at a recent Queensland Rural Press Club event, SA Merino breeder Rob Ashby has come out in support of AWI and continuing the current 2pc levy on growers gross wool proceeds.

At the press club luncheon, Mr Littleproud did not directly answer when asked if he was prepared to wind up AWI if it did not adopt the 82 recommendations of an Ernst&Young performance and governance review of AWI. The minister said the review was important for AWI, though “it’s time for personalities to leave” the research, development and marketing body.

Mr Ashby said AWI has been under continuous assault in recent months.

“Now is the time for growers to act in support of the activities of their company.

“A vote for the 2pc levy as recommended by AWI is the best way to reassure the industry about future direction and guarantee sufficient funds for ongoing R&D and the very successful marketing program.

“Good times are not the time to reduce the levy. It is far better to build on success and consolidate reserves now, than seek an increase in the future,” Mr Ashby said.

For details on past WoolPoll results click here.

Click here to read the WPA letter to the editor.

Click here to read Rob Ashby’s letter.


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