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WoolProducers Australia queries AWI board focus group governance stance

by Terry Sim, 08 September 2017
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WHAT is the Australian Wool Innovation board and management’s corporate stance on the AWI-funded focus group of MERINOSELECT breeders on June 15 in Sydney?

The national body for wool growers, WoolProducers Australia, is seeking clarification, as it expected some action would have been taken by the AWI board or management over the focus group events, in line with corporate governance responsibilities.

WPA chief executive officer Jo Hall said AWI held a board meeting on September 1.

“Surely the AWI board should have been made aware of the (focus group) session and the breeder/AWI shareholder’s complaints.

“We’re posing the question, where are the board on this, did they know and what actions have they taken?

“Where are the AWI board on this, did they know and what actions have they taken?

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Ms Hall questioned if there should been an AWI board statement about the June 15 focus group and shareholders complaints before it was disclosed on the Sheep Central website.

“So if the board was made aware (of the focus group) at any stage, or even individual directors, was there was a need for action?” Ms Hall asked.

AWI MERINOSELECT focus group statement inadequate – WPA

She said the AWI statement since the media coverage of the focus group session has been inadequate.

“It doesn’t answer anything.”

According to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, the general duties imposed by the Corporations Act on directors and officers of companies include exercising fiduciary powers duties with care and diligence, acting in good faith in the best interests of the company, not improperly using position or information to gain an advantage, or cause detriment to the company.

Ms Hall believed the June 15 focus group should raise issues around AWI’s governance policies with the board.

An AWI spokesman has said AWI chairman Wal Merriman, as a member of the Australian Wool Innovation Board’s Science and Welfare sub-committee, often attended company-arranged meetings as an observer.

“This is not an unusual occurrence.”

The spokesman said the Science and Welfare sub-committee was established to provide guidance and recommendations to the board of AWI and the chief executive officer regarding the scientific and research policies and on the conduct of programs relating to activities undertaken by AWI that utilise science or impact animal welfare activities.

The corporate governance policies of all AWI committees can be seen at www.wool.com/about-awi/who-we-are/corporate-governance/, the spokesman said.

“AWI was aware of Mr Merriman’s presence at this meeting, as were the facilitators.

“That it was conducted with some people in the room and some behind glass observing is not a normal occurrence and a practice AWI will not be undertaking again,” the spokesman said.

Sheep Central has asked further questions of AWI around its position in regard to the June 15 focus group.

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  • Simon Wells September 12, 2017

    Governance, what’s that?

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