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WoolProducers opposes AWI on director candidates

Sheep Central, November 4, 2019

WoolProducers president Ed Storey

PEAK wool grower representative body, WoolProducers Australia, has called for all Australian Wool Innovation shareholders to vote in this year’s director elections and not leave proxies undirected.

WoolProducers today said it had carefully considered the eight candidates and is recommending registered shareholders vote for Dr Philip Holmes, Dr Janelle Hocking-Edwards and Noel Henderson.

The other candidates in the election include current directors Wal Merriman and David Webster, former director Paul Cocking, New South Wales Merino breeder and former director George Falkiner and New South Wales veterinarian Michelle Humphries. Mr Merriman, Mr Webster and Dr Humphries and Mr Henderson won the support of AWI;s board nomination committee, but the Merriman-Webster-Humphries ticket has been chosen by AWI to share any undirected proxies.

WoolProducers president Ed Storey said in considering the nominees, WoolProducers has identified the need for change at the board level of AWI.

“WoolProducers has been vocal regarding our concerns over the transparency, accountability, consultation and governance of AWI, which has led us to identify these three (Holmes, Hocking-Edwards and Henderson) as being most suited to address these concerns, along with meeting the skills matrix as identified in the Statutory Funding Agreement,” Mr Storey said.

WoolProducer said it took a principled approach to this decision and considered the need for board renewal, research and development, corporate governance and business acumen skills.

WoolProducers strongly believe that the Dr Holmes, Dr Hocking-Edwards and Mr Henderson provide strong attributes to address these needs.

‘Of course, production, marketing and trade knowledge are essential skills to have on the board of AWI, but WoolProducers believes that existing directors of AWI adequately address these requirements.’ Mr Storey said.

WoolProducers said its concerns about the operations of AWI were somewhat vindicated by the findings of the 2018 Ernst Young (EY) Review of Performance, which made 82 recommendations to improve governance and accountability of the organisation.

“Unfortunately WoolProducers doesn’t feel that there have been many genuine changes to the operations of AWI despite public and private assurances following the EY Review that there would be,” Mr Storey said.

‘Following this, WoolProducers are surer than ever that a change of culture is what must happen at AWI which can only be done with board renewal.”

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