Wool body under renewed fire over governance

Wool Innovation under renewed fire over governance

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UNDER FIRE: Australian Wool Innovation has been ordered to provide written evidence that it is providing clear, regular and transparent communications to levy payers.

UNDER FIRE: Australian Wool Innovation has been ordered to provide written evidence that it is providing clear, regular and transparent communications to levy payers.

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Australian Wool Innovation has been ordered to provide written evidence it is meeting is governance obligations.

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RECALCITRANT statutory funded research and development body Australian Wool Innovation has been ordered to provide written evidence that it is providing clear, regular and transparent communications to levy payers.

In a strongly worded letter, which surfaced on social media on Saturday, Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie has told AWI chair Colette Garnsey to provide written proof that the corporation was implementing the 82 recommendations made in an independent review of the organisation's governance carried out in 2018.

Senator McKenzie also told Ms Garnsey that AWI needs to front her Canberra office and explain first hand how the organisation is addressing the concerns of levy payers.

Former Agriculture Minister David Littleproud already earlier ordered that the recommendations be completed by October 19, 2018.

RELATED STORY: 'Littleproud leaves winding up AWI on the table'.

"I ask that you provide me with a detailed written update on progress against each of the individual recommendations and their components," Senator McKenzie writes a year later.

"I also expect AWI to provide me, in response to this letter, with a communications strategy for how it will provide a greater level of transparency and assurance to levy payers about its implementation of the review and its broader operations.

Senator McKenzie said AWI's actions to implement the review had not met expectations.

"I have been disappointed to heat the dissatisfaction expressed to me by levy payers both about AWI's implementation process and the spirit it has gone about delivering the recommendations," she said.

The October 22 letter is the latest in a long running feud between the wool body and government and reflects the mounting frustration of woolgrowers.

AWI's tardy approach to addressing it own governance issues also adds further weight to the push to rationalise R&D bodies and places renewed pressure on incumbent candidates the AWI board elections to be finalised later this month.

High profile NSW woolgrower Chick Olsson has questioned why his application for the AWI board election was refused.

High profile NSW woolgrower Chick Olsson has questioned why his application for the AWI board election was refused.

Meanwhile, high profile NSW woolgrower Chick Olsson has questioned why his application for the AWI board election was refused after 38 of the 137 signatures he supplied were rejected.

Mr Olsson said he was told only 99 of the signatures could be validated but was denied being able to cross-check the validity of any the other signatures which he supplied. An eligible candidate required a minimum of a 100 signatures from registered AWI member shareholders.

"I asked for more information and to see which of the 38 signatures could not be validated and why," Mr Olsson said.

"But I was simply told the matter was closed."

Mr Olsson previously served on the AWI board and was known for his clashes with several AWI board members including current AWI chairman Wal Merriman.

"Woolgrowers desperately need a full Senate inquiry into Australian Wool Innovation.

"This attitude and approach to the spending of levy payers' funds cannot be allowed to continue."

The story Wool body under renewed fire over governance first appeared on Queensland Country Life.

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