WOOLGROWERS are being urged to vent their views on the performance and accountability to wool producers, of Australian Wool Innovation (AWI).
Former Agriculture Department Secretary and now EY Australia Federal Government Lead Partner Andrew Metcalf is spearheading the independent examination of AWI’s operations, which was announced earlier this year by Federal Agriculture and Water Resources Minister David Littleproud.
It was triggered after unwanted political attention due to several high profile incidents involving AWI Chair Wal Merriman including swearing at a journalist at an industry event and the infamous ‘mirror-gate’ scandal, for which he apologised for both, at Senate estimates hearings.
The independent examination of the federal government and wool levy-funded research and development and marketing agency’s performance in critical areas like governance is due to be handed down ahead of the WollPoll, which determines the organisation’s levy-rate, with voting due to occur between September 17 and November 2 this year.
Growers are being urged to have their say along with other relevant industry stakeholders ahead of a May 4 deadline.
“The purpose of the independent review is to consider AWI’s performance against its stated objectives to ensure it is delivering for growers and community,” Mr Metcalfe said.
Mr Metcalfe said the purpose was to consider AWI’s delivery upon its core objectives including research, development, extension and marketing services to woolgrowers, and other matters of public interest.
He said EY welcomed submissions from all relevant stakeholders including: AWI levy payers/wool growers; industry Associations; Research and Development Corporations; Commonwealth or State Government departments or agencies; shearing entities; early stage processors; spinners/weavers; non-government organisations; and brands, retailers and associations.
EY’s review team is also set to consult broadly with the wool industry to inform its final report.
Mr Metcalfe said the review was already underway and the review team wanted to receive submissions and comments, on the terms of reference, from industry participants.
AWI is a not-for-profit company owned by more than 23,000 wool levy-payers regarded as shareholders with 40pc being from NSW.
According to the company’s 2016/17 annual report, the 2 per cent wool levy raised more than $60 million with the federal government’s contribution being $14.7m.
With licensing fees of $7.6m, interest on reserves of about $2.4m and other income, the overall revenue total was more than $88m for the year, while expenditure was $70.8m.
The report said AWI’s reserves for 2016/17 where $106.3m up from about $90m the year before, with more than $96m forecast in 2017/18.
The terms of reference provided by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources for the review include; implementing governance arrangements and practices that ensure proper use and management of funds; and meeting the planned outcomes and targets of its strategic plan.
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