GREATER transparency, increased investment on infrastructure and a burning desire to see the company

15 Feb, 2007 07:00 PM
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Mr Badger made headlines last year after taking a fact finding mission to Malaysia to conduct a first hand investigation of the CBH Group¹s Asian flour mill investments.

After being critical of the CBH Group Board and management¹s approach to its Asian investments, he made a self-funded visit to Peninsular Malaysia to tour both the Prestasi Mill and UiTM research and development facility.

³If you are going to criticise then you had better get your facts right,² he said.

While the experience gave him a new view of CBH¹s $100 million investment, it also fuelled his desire to increase the CBH Group¹s level of transparency.

It is this type of thinking that Mr Badger believes will give him the front-running over his opponents when it comes time for growers to vote.

He is gradually building an impressive agro-political portfolio with a number of important roles on various committees.

He is currently WAFarmers Grains Council Vice-Chairman, the CBH Group¹s Growers Advi-sory Council (GAC) Deputy-Chairman, Nyabing/ Pingrup Land Conservation District Committee Chairman, Lake Chinocup Catchment Resource Management Committee (Gypsum Mine) Chairman and Pingrup CBH Water Harvesting Project Chairman.

He is also the former deputy chairman of the WA International Agricultural Exchange Asso-ciation, and a former secretary of the Wheat Growers Association.

³My driving focus is that growers must have total ownership and control of our industry to safe guard the limited amount of money that it generates,² he said.

³As price takers the only variables that we can influence are beyond the farm gate and before the consumer.²

Mr Badger said if elected, his main priority would be to ensure that the company remained a co-operative and promises to do his utmost to defeat the corporate push.

³Transparency is vital,² he said.

³Growers need to know what¹s happening and they need to be part of the company¹s vision.

³At the moment there is not enough consultation and the Board is not willing enough to work with growers.

³I have observed too many times recently where the Board and the company¹s management have acted like a commercial entity and not a co-operative.

³Every time they need to balance the books they simply put the charges up, like the $31 non-delivery charge, and it insults the growers.

³These types of decisions require more consultation with growers.

³We also need more information on what¹s happening with things like the Asian flour mill investments and in particular how they are operating and how are they going to provide a return to growers.²

Mr Badger said he would protect the co-operative using common sense and promised to keep a check on the other directors who wanted CBH corporatised.

³I will ask these directors who want to corporatise CBH to explain and prove to me their understanding of the principals of a co-operative,² he said.

³AWB is a classic case of a co-operative gone wrong and I don¹t think any growers want to see that happen again.²

Mr Badger said he would also push for increased transparency on pool reporting.

³Growers have a right to know what is happening with their grain, the costs involved and how a certain price is achieved,² he said.

He said growers also had a right to know what the operational costs were at individual grain receival sites.

³I have seen these costs in confidence and believe it would not be difficult to show these to growers,² he said.

³The Board should be putting information into growers instead of fear.²

Mr Badger said bin closures would also be a critical issue with a better consultation policy put in place in order to avoid a repeat of the Mt Sheridan bin¹s demolition.

³There is no way what happened with the tearing down of the Mt Sheridan bin without speaking to the growers properly would ever happen again,² he said.

Mr Badger said he would also keep a close eye on the company¹s attitude towards wheat marketing.

Whilst he did not disagree with the company¹s successful licence application bid this season, he felt it was important that the overall cost impact of deregulation was investigated then properly explained to growers.

³CBH have a legal right to market wheat but growers need to know more about what¹s involved with it,² he said.

³The company also has a consultant in Canberra who is lobbying the Federal Government but no-one is sure exactly what this person does.

²Growers have a right to know what agenda that person is pushing and what direction he or she is being given by the Board.

³If the activity is not part of the company¹s charter then growers have a right to feel aggrieved about it, especially if they have not been consulted on direction.²

Ballot papers for this year¹s CBH Group director elections will be posted to eligible shareholders later this month.

Completed ballot papers must be received at the CBH Group Head Office in Perth by 4pm on Wednesday March 21, 2007.

³Unless the Board is completely transparent how can growers trust what they do?

²I am not against these types of consultants - the work can provide a big advantage when used strategically, but I just think it is important that we know what it is they are up to on our behalf.²

Mr Badger said he would like to see the Board explain the cost impact on grain handling in the event that multiple sellers entered the market, if and when wheat was deregulated.

He said it was vital that the company understood and was prepared for the full impact of possible deregulation and the handing costs associated with accumulating multiple cargos.

³I want to ensure that they simply don¹t put the handling costs up and throw it back on to growers in the event that there are multiple wheat marketers,² he said.

²We need to know what the effect of those changes will be and if we can maintain tiered quality payments.

²The demise of barley quality payments is a graphic illustration and immediately lowers Western Australian barley standards to that of the rest of the world.

³We need to be leaders in quality to maintain a price in an unfair world market.²

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