Woolgrowers feel 'vindicated' by AWI review

Australian Wool Innovation chair Wal Merriman, right, and chief executive Stuart McCullogh face a torrid Senate estimate hearings last year.
Australian Wool Innovation chair Wal Merriman, right, and chief executive Stuart McCullogh face a torrid Senate estimate hearings last year.

A woolgrowers group says it feels vindicated by the findings of an independent review of Australian Wool Innovation (AWI).

Wool Producers Australia’s (WPA) president Richard Halliday said the review addressed many of the concerns raised by woolgrowers and it was now up to AWI and the industry to implement the recommendations.

Mr Halliday said WPA believed there was “a degree of disconnect” between AWI and woolgowers and the review’s call for AWI to better communicate with stakeholders might overcome that.

The AWI receives its funds from a levy on wool and the federal government. 

Mr Halliday said he was pleased the review had also recommended the tenure of AWI board members be limited to 10 years, a proposal that WPA had also put forward. 

If the recommendation is implemented, it will mean the departure of AWI chairman Wal Merriman who has been a board member for 14 years.

Mr Merriman has attracted controversy, facing allegations that he has overseen a toxic culture at AWI. 

Mr Halliday said another call by WPA for more transparency about AWI’s governance and proxy voting had also been accepted by the review.

AWI chief executive Stuart McCullogh said it was happy to accept the review’s recommendations that offered “a way forward that will take the industry to a new level for the future.”

Mr McCullogh said the recommendations would involve changes to AWI’s constitution. Shareholders will get the opportunity to vote on the proposed constitutional changes at the AWI’s annual general meeting on November 23.

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