Close contest raises ballot paper concerns

AWI's close board contest raises ballot paper concerns


Wool
AWI woolgrower services Nicole Conallin and Henry Ridge, with AWI industry events manager Wendie Ridgley, and Lempriere and Michell, Sydney wool buyer, Scott Carmody at AWI's annual general meeting.

AWI woolgrower services Nicole Conallin and Henry Ridge, with AWI industry events manager Wendie Ridgley, and Lempriere and Michell, Sydney wool buyer, Scott Carmody at AWI's annual general meeting.

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WOOLGROWER shareholders have complained of missing ballot papers following a close contest for AWI's board election.

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WOOLGROWER shareholders have complained of missing ballot papers as just 7000 votes, or three per cent of total votes cast, decide who remained on the Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) board.

The closely contested election also shone a spotlight on the use of open proxies by AWI chairman Wal Merriman in influencing the fate of the board election.

The board battle resulted in incumbent director James Morgan retaining one of three board seats with 135,892 votes, and former member Paul Cocking ousted with 128,618 votes.

Mr Merriman said he was aware of voting concerns with Mr Morgan, the managing director of Mutooroo Pastoral Company, not even receiving ballot papers.   

“(Link Market Services) assure us everything went out on time but there seemed to be a problem with the post,” he said.

“(But) a lot of people think they are members of the company and they’re not.”

Levy payers need to apply to be a shareholder of AWI.

Last financial year, AWI had about 23,500 registered shareholders of the estimated 50,000 wool levy payers.

Meanwhile, a request by Senator Barry O’Sullivan for AWI to end the use of open proxies has fallen on deaf ears, with Mr Merriman declining to specify the number of open proxies received.  

“It’s in line with a normal contested election, slightly up,” he said.

AWI secretary Jim Story defended the company’s decision not to disclose the direction of open proxies since the 2011 election.

“We meet all our legal requirements. It’s not a matter of deliberately obfuscating, it is a matter of what our legal requirement are,” Mr Story said.

“It was (the standard) some time back... policies may change as time goes by.”

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