THE decision to replace retiring Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) chairman and WA farmer Terry Enright with a NSW agri-politician has angered WA farming representatives.
Keith Perrett, a former Grains Council of Australia (GCA) chairman and one time AWB board candidate, was announced as Mr Enright’s replacement last week and will take over the reins from October 1.
Mr Perrett has retained a strong involvement within the rural sector since stepping down as the head of GCA in 2005.
He is the current chairman of the National Rural Advisory Council, and operates a mixed grain and livestock property at Gunnedah.
As the current NRAC chairman, Mr Perrett advises the Australian Government on a range of subjects including rural adjustment, regional issues, education and training and, importantly in the current drought, exceptional circumstances declarations.
Mr Enright, who has held the critical research and development position since 2002, flagged his intentions to stand down from the role recently and will return to full-time work on his farm in Mt Barker.
WA Grain Group spokesperson Ray Marshall said he was concerned that WA growers were not represented in the appointment process.
“As far as I am aware this was done without even GCA chairman Murray Jones being consulted,” Mr Marshall said.
“I believe this is a smack in the face to every grain grower in this country who contributes on average $60 million per annum and WA growers who fork out $20m of this to fund GRDC.
“It is absolute rubbish and makes me very angry not because of who it is, but because the stakeholders were not consulted.
“Now that WAFarmers has seen fit to sever GCA membership and is using its limited funds to support the Wheat Export Marketing Alliance, and because the Pastoralists and Graziers Association have never supported the concept of GCA, it leaves WA out in the cold.”
GRDC deputy chairman and Victorian graingrower Ross Johns was overlooked for the chairman’s position, but it is understood this is not the first time that a chairman has been appointed from outside the current executive.
The GRDC chairman is appointed by the Federal Agriculture Minister.
Meanwhile, current GCA chief operating officer David Ginns says he will not renew his contract for another term.
Mr Ginns will pursue an academic career in NSW, following a period of leave.
GCA is also seeking a replacement for senior policy officer Caroline Brokus, who has decided to take up a position with the Wheat Export Authority (WEA).