There's still time for a say on WoolPoll

There's still time for a say on WoolPoll

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Woolgrowers have today and tomorrow to email their views on WoolPoll to the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

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It's time for wool growers to have their say on WoolPoll before the Friday deadline.

It's time for wool growers to have their say on WoolPoll before the Friday deadline.

WOOLGROWERS have today and tomorrow to email their views on WoolPoll to the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

The original May 29 submissions deadline was extended last week until June 12 to allow more time for woolgrowers to respond to a 20-page discussion paper and 11 questions posed on WoolPoll which determines the levy rate that provides a significant proportion of funding for Australian Wool Innovation.

DAWE published the discussion paper on its website at the start of May, with its review of WoolPoll in response to a recommendation from the 2018 EY independent review of AWI's performance and governance.

EY had suggested WoolPoll could be held every five years instead of every three years to reduce AWI's costs of holding the levy rate poll and to provide greater funding certainty to encourage long-term investments in research and development.

It recommended the then Department of Agriculture and Water Resources consult industry representative organisations and directly with woolgrowers about the timing of WoolPoll.

WoolProducers Australia (WPA) supported the time period being extended to five years, but only if that enables AWI's strategic planning cycle to align with an existing five-year strategic planning cycle for Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA).

WPA has already made a submission to DAWE's WoolPoll review but has not made its submission public this time.

A previous submission released by WPA on WoolPoll, critical of AWI's involvement in the poll and determinations in relation to levy rate options, saw the not-for-profit organisation threatened with a law suit and having to spend money on preparing to defend itself.

However, last week WPA chief executive officer Jo Hall confirmed it supported WoolPoll being held every five years so strategic planning for the peak wool body and the peak sheep meat body could be aligned to develop closer co-operation.

"But our support for a five-year WoolPoll cycle is conditional on it aligning with five-year strategic planning cycles for AWI and MLA, otherwise it's a waste of time, it could be counterproductive," Ms Hall said.

"Currently, the planning cycles only align every 15 years and when that happens there are tangible benefits," she said.

Ms Hall said WPA also supported more independence and responsibility for the WoolPoll panel to take charge of the poll from AWI.

AWI is required by regulation to hold the poll and is responsible for it, but it is also required to appoint a WoolPoll panel to verify ballot processes and documents, while the actual ballot and compilation of results is conducted by an independent returning officer engaged by AWI.

"The problem is, AWI doesn't have to listen to the WoolPoll panel and it proved that in the 2015 WoolPoll when the panel recommended a 1.5 per cent levy option be included on the ballot paper but AWI rejected that," Ms Hall said.

The 1.5pc levy option made it onto the 2018 ballot paper and was voted in by woolgrowers who rejected AWI's preferred option of 2pc for the first time since WoolPoll was introduced in 2000.

"We (WPA) think the WoolPoll panel doesn't have enough authority and independence," Ms Hall said.

AWI has welcomed the WoolPoll review by DAWE.

The next WoolPoll is due in October next year.

The wool levy is automatically deducted from woolgrowers' payment when they sell wool.

AWI determines how much of the levy funds it spends on research and development and how much it spends on marketing wool.

The Federal government matches the levy component for research and development.

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