AWB shame acknowledged

29 Mar, 2006 08:45 PM
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MORAWA grower and AWB director Chris Moffet said at a Morawa meeting last week that the AWB oil-for-food (OFF) scandal was a shameful period for the company, but he was confident the company could return to its early glory.

His comments were in response to a question from Morawa grower James Yewers who asked if there was any hope AWB could be restored to the former glory it had before it was caught up in the OFF scandal.

"Are the bad eggs gone now?" Mr Yewers asked.

"If the bad eggs are taken out can the AWB go back to its former glory and do what it has done for many years so well - marketed our wheat, and let us growers get on with growing the stuff, which is what I enjoy?"

Mr Moffet said the AWB board had started the process of removing from management those who had failed in their duties to the growers and to the board.

He said there were strong laws regarding unfair dismissal and the Cole inquiry would give the board the opportunity to further clear the quarter decks, which was what the board intended to do.

"I want to give credit to the vast majority of this company who do a good job for you," Mr Moffet said.

He said the governance structure of AWB was as good as any other company listed on the stock exchange.

"Your board has taken control of the company and it will restore itself," Mr Moffet said.

"Let us remember that the OFF program started when AWB was the Australian Wheat Board.

"I ask of you to exhibit great patience to await the outcome of the Cole inquiry, so blame can be apportioned to where it lies."

Mr Moffet said the board empowered management to carry out the strategy of the company and if people gave false reports it was not always detected immediately.

"One of the problems has been a weaning off of a culture we had in the past - the old Australian Wheat Board culture - and it took too long to change the company to its new structure," he said.

"I can't do anything about that, I did all I could in times gone by.

"It's not about crying over spilt milk but about ensuring our governance system runs better.

"It is a shameful period and I am taking it on the chin.

"I think now there will be more than one company looking at its corporate governance to see whether they have viruses in their company like the viruses we have.

"The single desk review is only four harvests away and your directors are cognisant of the short period of time from now until then, which is also when we will point to the indisputable effects and benefits of the single desk."

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