Declared poll anger
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.
Waander van Beek