Littleproud: AWI must modernise

Minister calls on AWI to implement all 82 recommendations

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AWI Chair Wal Merriman.

AWI Chair Wal Merriman.

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The Minister for Agriculture released the long awaited AWI review today, calling on the organisation to implement all 82 recommendations in full.

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Australian Wool Innovation needs to modernise, move to a skills-based board, improve transparency of proxy voting and limit board members to 10 years’ tenure, an independent review has found.

Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud released the long awaited review into the performance and governance of AWI today, calling on the organisation to implement all 82 recommendations in full.

Mr Littleproud said the wool industry was performing well and it should be acknowledged AWI had played a role in that.

“The EY review says AWI has achieved much for growers and also that AWI has areas to work on,” Minister Littleproud said.

“The review provides a roadmap to modernise AWI and I ask and expect AWI will take a genuine leadership role in delivering the recommendations.

“Doing so will benefit both the organisation and wool growers.

“EY made 82 recommendations and it is my expectation AWI board members will be strong leaders and implement all of them.”

Key recommendations include;

  • Improvement in strategic planning, communication with stakeholders and stakeholder engagement
  • Moving to a skills-based board
  • A maximum of 10 years on the board for board members
  • Transparency around use of proxy votes during board elections
  • Breaches of the code of conduct by board members to be investigated independently, not by AWI

“I’ll be writing to AWI to make my expectations clear,” Minister Littleproud said.

“I expect the AWI board to show strong leadership and work with woolgrowers to implement change, including cultural change. While some recommendations have personal implications for board members, I expect that the AWI board will act in the best interests of the organisation and levy payers, to better position AWI to support the wool industry for the future.

While some recommendations have personal implications for board members, I expect that the AWI board will act in the best interests of the organisation and levy payers, to better position AWI to support the wool industry for the future.

“Woolgrowers pay levies towards AWI and the Government provides AWI with $15 million in direct investment annually. Woolgrowers expect and deserve the best possible research and marketing, governance and performance.

“EY called for AWI to immediately implement the review with vigour and in a consultative manner, and I support this. I expect recommendations requiring constitutional change to be ready for this year’s AGM in November.”

AWI has also released a statement today welcoming the review. It said the 82 recommendations range in levels of importance from 'mandatory', 'critical' and 'recommended' and provide the company with timing suggestions for completion helping to pave the way for greater consultation, transparency and accountability.

AWI CEO Stuart McCullough said the assessment of how AWI was performing against its responsibilities would be of great benefit to AWI in refining processes and approach going forward.

“AWI acknowledges there are areas where we can enhance the way we operate and we look forward to improving delivery of our services to Australian woolgrowers, and the Report provides a detailed roadmap to assist that process,” he said.

“From an operational perspective we can advise that we intend to expeditiously adopt key recommendations that will assist to enhance our transparency and accountability and our consultation mechanisms with our shareholders and stakeholders.

With regard to the findings and recommendations contained in the report pertaining to the board the following statement was made:

“The AWI Board is happy to accept the recommendations and plan the adoption forthwith. There are constitutional matters that will be presented as resolutions for shareholders to vote upon at the November 23rd AGM. The board believes this report offers a way forward that will take the industry to a new level for the future.”

A summary of the review's findings will be sent to all woolgrowers as part of the WoolPoll process.

To read the review in full visit http://www.agriculture.gov.au/ag-farm-food/innovation/awi-performance-review

More industry reaction to follow. 

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