Proud record of serving the Australian wool industry

WoolProducers Australia was formed in 1979 and was originally known as the Wool Council of Australia (WCA). Prior to this, Australian wool growers were represented nationally by the Australian Wool Growers and Graziers Council (formed in 1960) and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Association (formed in 1939).

The catalyst for the formation of a single national commodity council for wool was agreement of all Australia’s national farming bodies to come together under the banner of the National Farmers Federation (NFF) to provide a consistent voice for the farming community. The NFF brought together the many disparate organisations of the day, unifying what were sometimes conflicting agendas between different bodies at state and national level.

Since the formation, successive wool growers have held the position of President of the national body, dedicating the time throughout their term to representing the interests of fellow producers.

The national wool grower body has also been pivotal in achieving specific wool industry policy reform on behalf of growers since its beginnings. Working with the NFF, our achievements are highlighted by success in iconic industrial matters such as the wide combs shearing dispute in the early 1980s. WoolProducers Australia continues today to be the national wool industry member of the NFF, contributing to policy development across issues that impact on all farmers, including the industrial relations, trade, the environment, climate change and taxation.

Not only did the wide combs dispute achieve significant productivity gains for the wool industry – through improved shearing rates and reduced time lost to industrial disputes in the following years – but it broke the union stranglehold on the shearing industry and paved the way for future industrial reform in other agricultural sectors.

Wool Council of Australia, now WoolProducers Australia, has been at the forefront of transforming industry service providers to ensure the effective and accountable use of compulsory levies or fees paid by growers for services. This includes the reform and restructure of the Australian Wool Research and Promotion Origination (AWRAP), improved corporate governance Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) and integration of The Woolmark Company into AWI in 2007.

The organisation successfully resisted commonwealth attempts to fully privatise the Australian Wool Testing Authority (AWTA), ensuring affordable testing fees have remained a priority for the company ever since.  Likewise, we have continually contributed to improvements in efficiencies at the Australian Wool Exchange (AWEX).

The boards of both AWTA and AWEX include a director appointed by WoolProducers Australia, ensuring that grower’s interests remain a priority in each company.

WoolProducers Australia contributes significantly to the health and welfare status of the national sheep flock, protecting against potentially devastating diseases such as foot and mouth, as a foundation member of the company Australia Health Australia (AHA).

The unique co-operative industry/government approach of AHA has helped transform Australia into a world leader in prevention and management of exotic and endemic disease incursions, and plays a vital role in maintaining our export markets.

As the wool industry today negotiates its way through the phase-out of the mulesing practice, it is facing arguably the biggest external shock since the collapse of the reserve price scheme, and the national representative body is again playing a lead role in protecting the interests of growers.

The expectations of consumers has increased over time in regard to the environmental and ethical production qualities of the woollen apparel they purchase, while the resources and influence of animal rights groups has grown.

In this context, WoolProducers Australia continues to lead the industry in responding to the needs of our customers and stakeholders and providing a united grower voice against the ever increasing and unreasonable demands of animal rights groups.

Previous Presidents

Mr E. L. (Dick) O’Brien 1979 – 1980
Hon. Ian McLachlan AO 1980 – 1984
Mr Neville Gorman 1984 – 1986
Mr Hugh Beggs 1986 – 1989
Mr K. M. (Chip) Sawers 1989 – 1991
Mr Alan Bowman 1991 – 1993
Mr Charles Armstrong 1993 – 1996
Mr Rod Thirkell-Johnston AM 1996 – 1998
Mr David Wolfenden 1998 – 2001
Mr Simon Campbell 2001 – 2003
Mr Robert Pietsch 2003 – 2007
Mr Don Hamblin 2007 – 2011
Mr Geoff Power 2011 – 2013
Mr Geoff Fisken 2013 – 2014
Mr Richard Halliday 2014 – Present

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