By MAL GILL
A MERGER of wool testing and selling institutions would be supported, the final WAFarmers wool section conference was told last week.
Australian Wool Testing Authority (AWTA) general manager Ian Ashman, guest speaker at the wool section of the WAFarmers' annual conference, said he was not opposed to a possible merger with Australian Wool Exchange (AWEX).
"We have no problem with that (merger), saving money where you can makes sense," Mr Ashman said.
Merging AWTA, the only certified greasy wool testing body in Australia with laboratories at Bibra Lake and Melbourne, with AWEX, which runs the Bibra Lake, Melbourne and Sydney wool auctions, was a recommendation of a recent wool selling review report.
"In terms of merging AWTA and AWEX, we've had these discussions twice before and twice before AWEX has walked away," Mr Ashman said.
"Their members had a problem with it."
He said the AWTA board would be discussing the Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) commissioned report, including the merger recommendation, this week.
But while not opposed to a merger, Mr Ashman was critical of the rest of the report.
"AWTA gets quite a few mentions in the wool selling review report that has come out," he said.
"I think it is fair to say some of the comments in the report may be well meaning but they are not necessarily the most logical way to solve some of the problems.
"Just in terms of the competition for example, anyone can compete with AWTA if they want to, changing that structure won't make it any more or less attractive, but they felt the need to make some comments."
On another of the report recommendations, that AWI establish an electronic "portal" to connect wool sellers with wool buyers, Mr Ashman was also critical.
"We already routinely transmit wool testing data electronically, it's nothing new.
"I think it is important to point out that there already are electronic systems for selling wool.
"Whether they are as widely used as people think they should be is a debate I don't want to have.
"For the concept of a portal - and I think in the report it was going to be $1.8 million in development - to develop beyond a concept, the cost-benefit analysis has to stack up.
"Somebody has got to say whether or not it makes financial sense to do it and that hasn't been done to date," he said.
Wool section chairman Ed Rogister told the conference WAFarmers' policy position supported a merger of AWTA and AWEX which sells close to 90pc of the Australian wool clip by auction.
At the WAFarmers annual conference the wool section was merged with the meat section to form the new Livestock Section.