AUSTRALIAN Wool Innovation (AWI) has announced a new, enhanced industry consultation model to provide woolgrowers valuable input into the organisation's priorities and give them an improved say in the future of the Australian Merino wool industry.
Under the new model, two consultation forums will replace AWI's existing Industry Consultative Committee - a core AWI Woolgrower Industry Consultation Panel (WICP) and a broader group of the AWI Woolgrower Consultation Group (WCG).
Respected agribusiness executive Ron Cullen has been unanimously endorsed by the members of the ICC as the new independent chairman of the WICP.
AWI chairwoman Colette Garnsey said the organisation had been reviewing its consultation arrangements since last year with a view to improving two-way communication with its woolgrower stakeholders - as recommended by the AWI Review of Performance.
The process involved holding workshops with woolgrower representative groups and taking feedback and submissions from the industry.
"AWI believes to be effective, accountable and productive, genuine consultation is essential," Ms Garnsey said.
"Honest and transparent consultation is important not only to woolgrowers, but it is critical to AWI's business, enabling us to identify woolgrower priorities, and report on our activities.
"We believe we have a way forward that strikes a balanced position, meeting the expectations of woolgrowers, our levy payers, woolgrower representative groups, government and AWI's business needs."
Ms Garnsey said the expanded WCG would ensure AWI received feedback from a wider range of regional and organisational perspectives, while the WICP was a core group that AWI could engage more regularly on specific issues.
She said AWI was delighted to have secured the services of Mr Cullen as the inaugural WICP chairman.
"Having somebody of Mr Cullen's calibre - with his strong chairing skills, extensive experience and knowledge of industry and good understanding of AWI's corporate governance framework - will ensure the WICP is a genuine consultative forum that will give woolgrowers a real say in the future of our industry," Ms Garnsey said.
Mr Cullen said it was privilege to be appointed as the inaugural chair of the new committee.
"Having been actively engaged in agriculture throughout my career I believe I can make a positive and productive contribution as chair of the WICP and I look forward to the challenge," Mr Cullen said.
"The unanimous support of the ICC gives me the confidence to get on with facilitating effective consultation with Australian woolgrowers."
Mr Cullen's appointment is for 12 months.
It is anticipated that the WICP will meet three times per annum and the WCG annually.
Mr Cullen is an experienced and respected agribusiness executive, having been actively engaged in the agriculture industry his entire working life.
In his former roles as chief executive and non-executive director of the Sheepmeat Council of Australia, he played an active role in the development of an export-oriented sheepmeat industry worth more than $3.5 billion a year.
He is a former senior manager in the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, a former chairman of the National Farmers' Federation Biosecurity Taskforce and a former member of the New South Wales Farmers Executive Council.
He is the current chairman of the National Sheep Genetics Advisory Committee and chair of Animal Health Australia's Sheep Health Program Steering Committee.
In 2018 he was nominated by the National Farmers' Federation to the AWI Review of Performance Project Administration Committee.
Apart from the independent chairman, members of WICP are: Australian Association of Stud Merino Breeders', Australian Superfine Wool Growers Association, Australian Wool Growers Association, a broad wool representative, Commercial Merino Ewe Competitions Association, Pastoralists and Graziers Association of WA, WoolProducers Australia, a Department of Agriculture representative and two AWI Board representatives.