TWO reports into the Australian wool industry have identified a severe shortcoming in strategic plan

31 Jan, 2007 08:45 PM

WoolProducers and the Australian Woolgrowers Association (AWGA) have not always seen eye-to-eye, but both groups have had serious concerns about the lack of a strategic plan for more than two years.

The anxiety among the groups has increased on the back of high wool prices boosting confidence and the proposed merger of Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) and Australian Wool Services (AWS) being pushed back to at least March.

The renewed calls follow the recent release of the AWI Future Woolscapes report, which identified a lack of vision as a key wool industry shortcoming.

Frustrations have reached the point where both organisations have amicably agreed to pursue the matter in unison.

AWGA chairman Martin Oppenheimer said the industry was failing to look at the bigger picture.

³This has really all come to a head over the stalling of the AWI-AWS integration and the further pushing back of timeframes,² he said.

³We¹ve expressed those concerns with WoolProducers and they were aware of these timeframes being extended.

³AWI¹s response is to get the integration in place first, before they look at strategic planning ‹ clearly that¹s not acceptable.

³This strategic plan needs to take place sooner rather than later and the obvious organisation to fund it is AWI.

³We back WoolProducers 100pc on this issue.²

Mr Oppenheimer said AWI¹s Future Woolscapes report was stating the obvious.

³I don¹t think the industry has been resting on its laurels,² he said.

³Rather, we¹ve been dealing with the issues of the moment like animal rights and live exports.

³We need to be more proactive, anticipate problems and not end up in a situation where we¹re trying to put out bushfires all the time.²

WoolProducers has actively promoted the idea of an industry strategic plan since 2005 and it was given further momentum after the release of the Taking Stock and Setting Directions report by the Federal Agriculture Department¹s Industry Partnerships Program (IPP) in late 2005.

The program was a joint initiative between WoolProducers and the government and involved key Australian wool industry stakeholders.

The IPP report identified the lack of an industry strategic plan as a problem and it also laid out the groundwork necessary to develop such a plan.

The call for a strategic plan was further supported by Land and Water Australia¹s Land, Water and Wool program, which also noted that a united vision for the Australian wool industry was needed.

The program also operates in conjunction with AWI¹s Future Woolscapes reports.

WoolProducers president Robert Pietsch said every industry stakeholder agreed during the IPP that a strategic plan was needed.

³Now AWI¹s own report states that the industry needs to be working towards common goals, which points straight to the need for an industry-wide plan,² he said.

³So who better to help develop and drive it than AWI?

³AWI has at its disposal the pool of expertise, talent and the funds needed to facilitate a whole-industry strategic plan, which is why we have been calling on them since the release of the IPP report to lead its development.

³To not have a plan and roadmap for the future of our industry is unacceptable to WoolProducers and will be to the detriment of every woolgrower in Australia.

³Every organisation in the industry has its own individual strategic plan; that is not what we are talking about here.

³What we are proposing is that a plan is developed for the entire industry, which will give us a common vision and set goals for where we want to be in five or 10 years¹ time.²

Both organisations believed the recent letter from Chinese wool processors, regarding a range of issues in the Australian wool industry, was a timely reminder that all stakeholders should be working together on issues for both domestic and international markets.

Australia celebrates 200 years of wool exporting in 2007 and WoolProducers and AWGA said this was the perfect time to implement a strategic plan.



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