Senate Estimates exposes transparency issues with AWI

WoolProducers Australia (WPA) is calling on Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) to improve their governance, including transparency and accountability to woolgrowers.

Following AWI’s appearance at Senate Estimates yesterday a number of issues relating to governance have been left unanswered.

Jo Hall, WPA’s Chief Executive Officer said ‘There were a number of concerning matters raised by the Senators relating to AWI’s processes regarding the director election process from the initial Board Nomination Committee through to the allocation of proxies.’

It was revealed, amongst other things that the Chair receives an enormous amount of proxies and does not have to declare where he allocates undirected proxies.

‘WoolProducers does not believe that there is adequate transparency or accountability in this process and calls on AWI to rectify these issues immediately. Ms Hall said.

The lack of transparency reinforces WPA’s call for arm’s length oversight of AWI and broader industry structural reforms.

‘AWI rejected Senators’ questioning on the oversight issue by saying it was AWI’s job to work in the interests of shareholders, not representative groups.’

‘AWI also say that levy payers have the power to direct the company, however the reality is under the current industry structure, voting in biennial director elections or the triennial WoolPoll are the only meaningful way to direct the company, which is neither agile nor timely enough for woolgrowers paying a compulsory levy’. Ms Hall said.

These latest claims follow the revelations in the February Senate Estimates that AWI had made ex gratia payments to former staff that were well above both the National Employment Standards and the Australian Public Service. These payments were additional to the obligatory accrued leave and notice periods required.

 

‘As an industry owned, grower funded body, if woolgrowers are not happy with how their company is working for them, they must make their views known. Woolgrowers deserve better.’  Ms Hall concluded.

 

ENDS

WoolProducers Australia contact:

Jo Hall

Chief Executive Officer

0488 554 811