THE forthcoming AWB director elections have been labelled a waste of time.

31 Jan, 2007 08:45 PM

AWB Limited chairman Brendan Stewart said in the company¹s annual report that the board accepted ultimate responsibility for the actions of management and the company¹s culture during the scandal-tainted oil-for-food (OFF) program.

But so far there has been no real evidence of that responsibility, with each of the three AWB directors standing for re-election at the company¹s annual meeting in Melbourne next month.

It was also revealed recently that disgraced former AWB executives named in the Cole Report had received more than $6.5 million in payouts last financial year.

AWB spokesman Darryl Hockey said the positions had been advertised, but there had been no other nominations for board seats.

Pastoralists and Graziers Association (PGA) Western Graingrowers chairman Leon Bradley said he was not surprised to hear that the call for nominations had uncovered no fresh candidates to challenge AWB¹s current board directors.

³I am not really surprised that no-one is running for election to oppose the current board members because most people realise that the situation is beyond hope,² Mr Bradley said.

³Why would anyone want to put their hand up to go in and clean up that mess?

³It is simply not an attractive proposition.²

Mr Bradley said the lack of candidates for board elections had provided further evidence that AWB¹s image had been tarnished during the events of the past year.

³There is not a thread of prestige left in being an AWB director, only risk,² he said.

³Can you imagine the problems the incoming directors would face? It would be an impossible challenge.²

Mr Bradley said all sitting directors should take responsibility for the Cole inquiry¹s findings and resign as part of a major clean-up exercise.

However, current director Steve Chamarette disagrees, and hit back at Mr Bradley¹s comments, saying he was elected to the board of AWB after the events of the Iraqi scandal had already unfolded.

He said it was important that AWB retained experienced directors and showed some stability heading into the future.

³We don¹t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater,² he said.

³It is inadvisable to have a complete clean-out of the board at this time and essential to have experienced directors in control of the company¹s destiny.²

Mr Chamarette said the board some directors would leave in the near future as part of a process of natural attrition.

But he was also quick to point out that the Cole commission had not made any adverse findings against any of the directors.

Mr Chamarette¹s position as an A-Class director is up for election this year but his place will be unchallenged heading into the company¹s February 22 AGM.

Shareholders are still required to vote, but the WA-based representative is expected to be elected unopposed to the AWB Limited board, while AWB International chairman Ian Donges will also be re-elected as the NSW/ACT representative.

Mr Chamarette, a wheatgrower from Trayning, was endorsed by the Wheat Growers Association (WGA) when he ran for election in 2004, replacing Laurie Marshall.

He holds Master of Science and Bachelor of Economics degrees and is a graduate member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors, a former WAFarmers grains councillor and a founding committee member of the Wheat Growers Association.

Mr Chamarette said he remained a firm single desk supporter and was looking forward to seeing the results of forthcoming wheat marketing review.

³At the end of the day it is the growers¹ choice of what they want ‹ they need to show the review committee what they want in the future and to express it very clearly,² he said.



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