Mr Edwards said the recent vote rigging scandal with Meat and Livestock Australia¹s (MLA) NLIS poll should make woolgrowers treat WoolPoll 2006 with extreme caution.
Farm Weekly asked Federal Agriculture Minister Peter McGauran, WoolPoll voting administrator Link Market Services and AWI if levy payers could access the votes after the outcome of a WoolPoll, but were unsuc-cessful in obtaining any clear answers.
Link Market Services, audited by legal firm Price Waterhouse Coopers and under contract from AWI to collect and count the votes, directed all queries to the wool body.
AWI in turn said the matter could only be answered by Mr McGauran, who did not respond before the paper went to print.
The situation does not surprise Mr Edwards, who has no qualms about questioning the WoolPoll process, even after his unsuccessful attempt to be elected as an AWI board member last year.
³The wool levy is compulsory,² he said.
³Even if you vote 0pc for a levy you have the right to be on the board because you still have to pay whatever levy gets the most votes.²
Mr Edwards hoped woolgrowers would not be deceived in WoolPoll 2006.
³People need to understand this is a vote for research and development,² he said.
³Do not make the mistake or be led to believe you are voting for something else.²
Mr Edwards said the two supplementary questions in the WoolPoll 2006 kit could also mislead voters.
³These questions could mean a lot of things and it opens up a very wide door,² he said.
The questions involve broadening the collection base of a levy by changing the statutory funding agreement, and AWI acting on behalf of woolgrowers¹ interest for industry issues, which could include animal welfare court cases and marketing.
Mr Edwards said if the merger between AWI and Australian Wool Services went ahead, the first supplementary question could be seen as an attempt to get agreement from levy payers for AWI to make changes to the statutory funding agreement.
³I have no problem with a merger going ahead, providing we have a truly transparent outcome when it comes to how much money we invest in them,² he said.