Wool votes for new voice

30 May, 2001 10:00 PM
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THE 21-year old Wool Council of Australia will be wound-up and replaced with a new, yet-to-be-named organisation in July.

The historic decision was achieved at a Wool Council of Australia (WCA) meeting in Canberra yesterday, where delegates voted to replace WCA with a new national lobby organisation that has been 12 months in the making.

WCA president David Wolfenden described the new body as "ground-breaking", and praised State Farm Organisations for supporting a structure which effectively puts their own voting power back in the hands of individual woolgrowers.

The new organisation is still yet to receive a name.

Industry leaders favoured "Woolgrowers Australia" as a title, but that name was rejected by the official business-name registrar last week because it was considered too close to "Australian Woolgrowers Association", which already exists.

Two new names have been submitted and leaders are awaiting a decision within the next fortnight.

The new organisation will officially become a commodity council of the NFF, but will retain full autonomy in relation to policy, finance and staffing matters.

The closer ties with the NFF are expected to eliminate costly duplication of activities that has occurred in the past.

Woolgrowers will have two pathways for membership.

A membership fee for the national body will be included in the membership fee growers pay to their State Farm Organisations (SFOs).

Alternatively, growers who are not members of an SFO can pay a membership fee directly to the new national organisation.

Direct members will pay a flat rate for membership, likely to be about $100.

The organisation will be led by a 12-member board.

Each of the six SFO's will appoint one member each to the board, while the remaining six positions will be filled by a national ballot of grower members who nominate to stand.

An interim executive board, made up of six SFO members and three additional members, will lead the new organisation from its establishment on Monday, July 2 until its first national election before September 30.

Membership fees will be the primary source of funding for the new body. SFOs will not pay for seats as they currently do on Wool Council, and will be regarded as "service members".

They will play a key role in recruiting members and disseminating information to members, but will have no official voting rights.

"The people who make the decisions are the woolgrowers, and as such the State organisations do not have any voting rights," Mr Wolfenden said.

"One of the ground-breaking parts of this is that the States have transferred their voting rights back to their individual members to vote on the issues."

Every woolgrower member will be eligible to participate on the board, committees and forum, and have access to the organisation's internet bulletin board and chat rooms.

A key feature of the new structure will be greater use of internet and e-mail to encourage participation by all members in committee meetings and policy development.

The WCA hopes issue-specific committee meetings will be held via the internet, which will allow growers in all corners of Australia to provide input to meetings without leaving home.

"This is a very good structure to move woolgrower representation forward," Mr Wolfenden said.

"It builds strength and participation of membership, but it builds in accountability, and I think woolgrowers should now get behind it to enable it to become a strong, effective body."

Future change of the constitution, or a future vote to wind-up the organisation, would require 75pc support from woolgrower members who vote.

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