CRITICS say last week¹s CBH Group director elections results for the Kwinana, Albany and Esperance z

30 Mar, 2007 08:45 PM
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Mr Butcher claimed a little over 10pc of the primary vote and was unceremoniously dumped from the six-man contest early after the first round of preference votes were distributed.

Mr Adams claimed 121 primary votes out of the 772 valid votes counted in the three-man contest in Albany, while Newdegate grower Ian Chamberlain secured 211 votes before preferences were distributed.

Of the incumbents, only Mt Madden grower Steve Tilbrook was re-elected, surviving the Esperance zone challenge of Lake King grower Tim Cattle by only 49 votes.

Mr Fuchsbichler and Mr Badger both claimed victory after receiving the endorsement of the Wheat Growers Association (WGA), which has openly criticised the CBH Group for undermining the single desk and its successful bid to secure wheat exports. The WGA surveyed and endorsed candidates in each zone according to their level of support for single desk marketing and opposition to the company¹s successful wheat export licence application.

The WGA-endorsed candidates dominated the Kwinana zone, with Vern Dempster finishing second and John Hassell third, while the other three candidates shared a third of the vote between them.

WGA chairman Bob Iffla described the election result as a resounding victory for the single desk.

Mr Iffla said the result also sent a clear message to CBH and other private grain traders to steer clear of wheat export marketing.

He said the two axed directors had paid the price for backing CBH¹s role in applying for a wheat export licence following the fall-out of the Cole inquiry late last year.

³This result clearly indicates what we have been saying all along,² Mr Iffla said.

³CBH needs to get back to doing what it does best and sticking with its core values as a grain handling company.

³Growers have been concerned about how CBH has been behaving for some time now and this vote has proven those concerns to be true.

³If I was a sitting director who was voted out, I would be extremely embarrassed by this result.²

Growers reacted after CBH had a 500,000t licence to export wheat direct to its Asian flour mills approved by Federal Agriculture Minister Peter McGauran along with a 3000,000t licence for Wheat Australia, after AWB was stripped of its power of veto on wheat exports.

State Agriculture Minister Kim Chance said the election results declared an unmistakable level of support for the single desk.

³I can¹t comment if I agree with them or not, but there were people who were quite upset about the role CBH played and that has surfaced from time to time and probably influenced their decision when voting,² he said.

³The only comment I could make is that I think the result probably does reflect the high levels of controversy which have been ruling the industry over the last few months.

³Perhaps we should probably not be surprised that there is some instability.²

WA Nationals leader Brendon Grylls said the result provided an overwhelming indication that growers were extremely angry with CBH and had reacted against the company¹s undermining of the single desk.

Mr Grylls warned that CBH needed to pay attention to what its members were saying or face further backlashes in future.

Mr Iffla said WA grain growers had voted for the candidates who were most committed to ensuring CBH focused on its core business of grain handling.

³When the incumbent directors could only muster 19pc of the primary votes across all three zones it is a clear message that the CBH board must return to co-operative principles,² he said.

³The reason Mr Badger and Mr Fuchsbichler were elected was because they were supported by the WGA and campaigned on almost identical platforms.

³Included in their platform were clear statements of support for CBH to concentrate on its core grain storage and handling services.

³Both candidates expressed concerns over the role of CBH in bringing on the current uncertainty surrounding the future of single desk marketing of wheat.

³A key feature of a co-operative is democratic control.

³CBH should never have gone ahead with their Asian flour mill investments without first getting approval from CBH members.

³Furthermore CBH must now refrain from further interference and disruption to government deliberations on the future of wheat marketing, allowing the government and growers to work unhindered in determining the best export wheat marketing system.²

Mr Iffla said CBH members would take up a range of issues with the board over the next 12 months.

He said high on that list of concerns would be the board¹s refusal to hold an Extraordinary General Meeting at the WGA¹s request, and their refusal to accept important member initiated resolutions for the AGM notice paper.

³These and other issues will no doubt get aired at CBH¹s AGM in Perth on April 4,² he said.

Mr Iffla warned that the bloodletting was not over with three more directors in the WGA¹s sights.

³The three board members up for election next year will be Tony Critch, Robert Sewell and Wally Newman,² he said.

³These men have a right to be nervous because it will give members of the co-operative another opportunity to vote on director positions.²

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