The exclusive invite list included CBH Group chairman Tony Critch and chief executive officer Imre Mencshelyi, AWB state manager Paul Ryan, Agriculture Department director-general Ian Longson, former CBH Group director John Carstairs, Elders chairman Barry Court, Centre for Legumes In Mediterranean Agriculture director Neil Turner, National Party stalwart Hendy Cowan, and other prominent scientists and agricultural heavyweights.
The most prominent name on the list belonged to former AWB chairman Trevor Flugge, who showed he had still had a sense of humour in admitting that he was a bit gun-shy of the media.
Mr Flugge made a rare public appearance as one of the event¹s designated speakers one of his first outings since going to ground in the fall-out of the Cole inquiry into the AWB wheat scandal.
Inquiry commissioner Terence Cole recommended criminal investigations against 12 former AWB executives including Mr Flugge as a result of his findings.
While the former AWB boss still can¹t speakabout his involvement in the oil-for-food scandal because of possible criminal charges, he was happy to talk about the benefits of international agricultural research and his work with the ATSE Crawford Fund.
Mr Flugge announced he was stepping down from his role as the WA branch¹s chairman after seven years in the job.
He said his resignation was not forced, but was part of the committee¹s rules and due to natural attrition.
Mr Flugge said his greatest achievement in 11 years as an active committee member had been to oversee training programs and increase the quality of the organisation¹s relationships.
³We have been able to provide third world countries with access to agricultural knowledge and skills that would otherwise not be available,² he said.
³We have also hosted a number of students here in WA and held master classes in countries like India and Pakistan to teach and share ideas on specialised subjects and specific scientific techniques.
³Companies like Wesfarmers and CBH provided great support while other contributions have also helped to bring mutual benefits to agriculture.
³I hope the new chairman continues to gather government and business support.²
Mr Flugge said most of the committee¹s work was focused on developing mutual benefits in mainstream agriculture but other fringe areas such as aquaculture were also being expanded.
Mr Flugge was thanked for his work on the committee and his leadership in promoting international agricultural research.