De­clared poll anger

Southern Riverina news - - NEWS -

Tur­moil in the Mur­ray Ir­ri­ga­tion Lim­ited direc­tor elec­tions reached boil­ing point last week when the com­pany in charge of con­duct­ing the vote in­cor­rectly an­nounced the win­ning can­di­dates.

It has led to calls for the vote to be called null and void and a new elec­tion held.

Amid the may­hem the new­est direc­tor Waan­der Van Beek, who was ini­tially ad­vised he had been un­suc­cess­ful in get­ting a seat on the MIL Board, says the first task must be to “re­new sta­bil­ity”.

In­cum­bent chair­man Bruce Simp­son and Tocumwal’s Phillip Snow­den have been an­nounced as the other suc­cess­ful can­di­dates. Un­suc­cess­ful can­di­dates were James Sides, who was the sub­ject of a pub­lic Board push to stop his re-elec­tion, and Tim McKind­lay.

An Ex­tra­or­di­nary Gen­eral Meet­ing, which the MIL Board an­nounced so it could push for a vote of no con­fi­dence in di­rec­tors James Sides and Chris Brooks, is ex­pected to pro­ceed next month. Mr Brooks re­mains on the Board.

Mr Simp­son said the EGM may be held be­fore the com­pany’s An­nual Gen­eral Meet­ing, on Novem­ber 28 at the De­niliquin RSL Club.

Mean­while, a cor­po­rate in­ves­ti­ga­tor who was hired as a scru­ti­neer for this week’s elec­tion vote count has ex­pressed con­cerns about the process, which he ques­tioned on Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

Shane Rin­gin said when he saw the re­sult on a web­site “I was in­cred­u­lous”, and has called into ques­tion re­sults.

Fel­low scru­ti­neer, well known De­niliquin farmer Rus­sell Tait, de­scribed the elec­tion process as “a sham­bles from the start”.

The MIL Board is ex­pected to dis­cuss the elec­tion re­sult and process.

Ini­tial re­sults showed Mr Snow­den and Mr Simp­son as suc­cess­ful can­di­dates, but had Mr McKind­lay as the third elected direc­tor.

Cor­pVote prin­ci­pal Tim Jones — who was also the bal­lot ad­min­is­tra­tor for the elec­tion — later an­nounced an ‘‘ac­count­ing er­ror’’ was dis­cov­ered af­ter a rou­tine in­ter­nal au­dit.

The SOUTH­ERN RIVE­RINA NEWS be­lieves this au­dit was only com­pleted on the in­sis­tence of can­di­date scru­ti­neers who claim they were dis­missed be­fore the elec­tion was of­fi­cially de­clared Tues­day night last week.

Mr van Beek said the whole process has cre­ated a rift in the Board that must be fixed as a mat­ter of ur­gency.

‘‘It is very un­for­tu­nate Tim McKind­lay and James Sides did not get in; and I do think Sides was hard done by,’’ Mr van Beek said.

‘‘Mov­ing for­ward, my view is that we need to cre­ate har­mony among the Board to start with.

‘‘It has the be first task for all of us, the staff in­cluded.’’

Mr Simp­son agreed that hav­ing a func­tional board was an im­por­tant first task, and said he felt the the in­tegrity of the re­sults of the elec­tion showed share­hold­ers be­lieve he can of­fer that sta­bil­ity.

‘‘I was cer­tainly pleased to be re­elected and thank the share­hold­ers for their on­go­ing sup­port,’’ Mr Simp­son said.

‘‘I think share­hold­ers were look­ing for sta­bil­ity and con­ti­nu­ity in elect­ing me, but they are also say­ing there is a need for some fresh blood.’’

Mr van Beek said once all the con­tro­versy dies down and the Board is op­er­at­ing as it should, he would be push­ing for Mur­ray Ir­ri­ga­tion to take a stronger and more pub­lic stance on what he calls a ‘‘flawed’’ Mur­ray-Dar­ling Basin Plan.

‘‘My for­ward agenda is a lit­tle dif­fer­ent in that I feel we should be get­ting more into the PR side, and putting out the real story of where water comes from and what it is used for.

‘‘The coun­try’s gross do­mes­tic prod­uct is re­ally af­fected by a lack of water and I do feel that water go­ing to the Com­mon­wealth En­vi­ron­men­tal Water Holder, for the en­vi­ron­ment, is not be­ing used as prac­ti­cally as it could be.

‘‘All of us liv­ing in this area will be af­fected by this flawed plan.

‘‘I am prob­a­bly not re­ally cut out for pol­i­tics, so the best ve­hi­cle I could think of to push for change was MIL.’’

Mr van Beek has been an ir­ri­ga­tor for 40 years and has mixed farm in­ter­ests which in­clude rice grow­ing. He has ex­pe­ri­ence as a shire coun­cil­lor and shire pres­i­dent and is a direc­tor of two agri­cul­tural en­ter­prises.

Mr Snow­den op­er­ates a mixed ir­ri­gated and dry­land farm­ing busi­ness and has been as­so­ci­ated with Ber­riquin Ir­ri­ga­tors Coun­cil for over 20 years, in­clud­ing five years as sec­re­tary/trea­surer.

He said he was re­luc­tant to com­ment on his fu­ture role on the Board or the con­tro­versy to date un­til af­ter his in­duc­tion, and would only say the Board and the com­pany needed to ‘‘fo­cus on water de­liv­ery’’.

‘‘There is a lot of stuff go­ing on that I am not privy to, much like the bal­ance of share­hold­ers, so I don’t think I can com­ment too much yet,’’ Mr Snow­den said.

‘‘I am grate­ful I got the votes from the share­hold­ers. The re­sults show what di­rec­tion they want the Board to go in, given we (those of us who were elected) went out with some clear mes­sages.’’

Mr Sides said he was not in­ter­ested in com­ment­ing on the elec­tion process and the ac­tions of the Board dur­ing the cam­paign­ing pe­riod, but said he wanted to wish Mr van Beek and Mr Snow­den well in their new roles.

‘‘I am de­lighted by the ap­point­ments of Waan­der and Phil and I trust they can re-di­rect the busi­ness on be­half of share­hold­ers for the next four years,’’ Mr Sides said.

The ap­point­ment of the three di­rec­tors will be con­firmed at the 2017 An­nual Gen­eral Meet­ing, to be held on Tues­day, Novem­ber 28 at the De­niliquin RSL Club. They will serve a four year term.

Phil Snow­den

Waan­der van Beek

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