COMPETITION at this year¹s CBH Group board elections will be hotter than ever in reaction to what ha

24 Jan, 2007 08:45 PM

While those growers who took advantage of the additional returns offered by CBH¹s wheat pool will be content with the performance of its current directors, single desk supporters have made it known they will be seeking change.

While the WGA has confirmed it is seeking a candidate to run for a seat on the CBH board it has yet to confirm anyone¹s interest, but has said it is seeking a candidate who will take steps to ensure CBH does not challenge or operate so as to undermine the existence of the single desk.

Up for election this year will be directors¹ positions in the Albany, Esperance and Kwinana zones.

The three zones¹ current directors are retiring in accordance with the company¹s articles of association, having served their three-year terms, but have advised they will submit for re-election.

Elections in the Kwinana zone are expected to attract the most interest with a number of growers from that region speaking out about their concerns over CBH¹s handling of the wheat export issue.

Up for re-election in the Kwinana zone is Colin Butcher, a grain and sheep producer who runs properties in Brookton and Beverley. Mr Butcher is a former vice-president of the WAFarmers Grains Council and a graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors.

He will seek to retain his position for a second three-year term after being elected to the CBH Group board in April 2004.

Dowerin grower Philip Metcalf confirmed he was considering running for a seat on the board again, and had applied for the paperwork.

Mr Metcalf ran third against the successful Mick McGinniss at last year¹s elections in the Kwinana zone, finishing behind Beacon¹s Derek Clauson and ahead of Brian Ellis from Bindi Bindi.

Mr Clauson confirmed he would not be campaigning this year, having recently been appointed as the WAFarmers Grains Council¹s policy advisor delegate to the Grains Council of Australia (GCA).

³I want to give the GCA delegate¹s role my complete focus because it is an important one at a critical time for the industry,² he said.

Mr Ellis also ruled himself out of contention, saying he had no desire to try again because he was happy with the current director¹s performance.

³Colin Butcher and I have similar views and I fully support him standing again,² he said.

³He has spoken very well and put forward a clear argument that CBH is looking after the best interests of all growers by getting rid of some of the smaller bins that are not economically viable.

³It¹s not a popular line to follow because it is an emotive argument but it is a reality, and if the directors don¹t move out of the past then we will all get left behind.²

Mr Ellis said he had not heard of any other candidates who had confirmed they would be running against Mr Butcher, but he welcomed the competition.

³If other candidates want to run for a seat on the board that¹s good for the industry because it means there¹s lots of interest in what¹s happening,² he said,

In the Esperance zone, Steven Til-brook¹s position is on the line, while David Adams will run again in the Alb-any zone.

One of the key issues facing both candidates in those zones will be last year¹s demolition of the Mt Sheridan grain receival bin.

CBH suffered severe backlash after it demolished and sold parts of the disused grain receival bin for scrap metal, much to the anger of local growers, who felt aggrieved by the decision.

There was confusion over how directors handled consultation with growers on the demolition, forcing local growers to vent their feelings on the issue.

The protest meeting was headed by local farmer Ian Chamberlain, who sent a warning to other graingrowing communities across the state, urging them to keep the company accountable.

Mr Chamberlain said he was seriously considering backing those claims by running for a seat on the CBH Group¹s board at the coming elections.

The outcry over the Mt Sheridan bin¹s demolition forced CBH operations general manager Colin Tutt to concede that the matter could have been handled better, promising there would be a more consistent community consultation policy put in place.

Mr Chamberlain said he not only felt strongly about the bin closure policy but also the future of wheat marketing.

³The rationalisation of bins is one issue, but there are bigger issues to do with wheat marketing that need to be dealt with,² he said.

Mr Chamberlain said current director David Adams had started out as a cooperative supporter but had changed his mind and was now in favour of corporatisation.

³I think the only way a director should or can change his mind is if his constituents change their minds as well,² Mr Chamberlain said.

The last director elections in the Albany zone were won by Newdegate grower Wally Newman, Wayne Pech from Gnowangerup and Boomehill¹s Alf Paganoni.

Mr Adams became a CBH director in 2002, is a grain and sheep producer from Cranbrook and is also a member of the audit and risk management committee.

Mr Tilbrook was elected to the board in 2002, farms at Mt Madden, and is an active member the South East Premium Wheatgrowers Association.



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