Australian Wool Innovation's WoolQ platform has come under scrutiny again in Senate estimates, with the acting CEO admitting sales figures were "disappointing" but cautioning against using those figures to measure its success.
Senator Perin Davey raised the issue during Tuesday's Senate estimates, citing the 2677 bales listed for sale in 10 sales outside the open-cry system in the year ending 30 June 2021, well below operating target of two percent of all Australian wool.
"On the market side of WoolQ, would you accept it's not really been taken up to the extent you had originally imagined?" she asked.
AWI acting CEO John Roberts admitted that it was disappointing.
"When we did the first development process...there seemed to be very enthusiastic support for the platform more broadly, particularly in the areas of traceability, but also in selling," he said.
"So we set those targets based on some of the support we were seeing and yes, it has been a disappointment, certainly."
During the Senate estimates session, Mr Roberts said of the $6.4 million expenditure on WoolQ, the taxpayer contribution was about $1.2 million.
Plans to commercialise the selling component of WoolQ were also discussed, with Mr Roberts saying they hoped to be able to recover costs on a longer term basis.
"To draw a direct line between cost recovery with the traceability, we would not be able to do that," he said.
"I think this is the trap we've fallen into, we allowed the success of WoolQ to be measured by sales volumes whereas as you're well aware, that's a small part of it.
"This tool was built to future-proof the industry and take head on this big opportunity that now exists in terms of traceability."
Senators are still due to receive a private briefing on a yet to be determined date about a report by Ernst & Young Port Jackson Partners into commercialising the WoolQ platform.
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