Sorry for mir­ror scan­dal

Chair­man pens let­ter of apol­ogy for ac­tions

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - Top 5 Topics - James Wagstaff news@ru­ral­weekly.com.au

EM­BAT­TLED Aus­tralian Wool In­no­va­tion chair­man Wal Mer­ri­man has apol­o­gised for wool’s in­fa­mous ‘man-in-themir­ror’ in­ci­dent.

In a let­ter dated last Wed­nes­day and re­leased this week, Mr Mer­ri­man apol­o­gised for se­cretly view­ing a meet­ing of stud breed­ers, who use the ge­netic ap­praisal Meri­noS­elect, through a one-way mir­ror from an ad­ja­cent room.

The in­ci­dent in Syd­ney in June was la­belled “un­eth­i­cal” by wool grow­ers and prompted calls for Mr Mer­ri­man to re­sign.

Meet­ing par­tic­i­pants said they were as­sured anonymity and were not in­formed Mr Mer­ri­man – whose Mer­ryville Merino stud in south­ern NSW does not use Meri­noS­elect – would be privy to the con­ver­sa­tion.

In the let­ter sent to meet­ing par­tic­i­pants, Mr Mer­ri­man apol­o­gised for the “poor de­ci­sion” and guar­an­teed it would “never hap­pen again un­der my di­rec­tor­ship”.

“Never be­fore have these meet­ings been held in a room with one-way glass to an­other room and if the AWI Board knew such a room was booked, it would have never al­lowed it,” Mr Mer­ri­man wrote in the let­ter.

“It was my mis­take to not in­sist to be in the room with you and I apol­o­gise for this. My pres­ence not be­ing fully and openly de­clared by Ax­iom Con­sult­ing as an AWI ob­server is not the way I op­er­ate.”

AWI, which col­lected more than $50.3 mil­lion in wool levies in 2015-16 with a fur­ther $13.4 mil­lion com­ing from match­ing Fed­eral Govern­ment con­tri­bu­tions, has also come un­der fire fol­low­ing an in­ci­dent where Mr Mer­ri­man told a jour­nal­ist ques­tion­ing him on in­dus­try is­sues ear­lier this month to “f--- off”.

The clash – which AWI de­scribed as “un­for­tu­nate” but has not apol­o­gised for – oc­curred at a wool in­dus­try event in South Aus­tralia last week when an ABC re­porter ap­proached Mr Mer­ri­man with ques­tions about the mir­ror in­ci­dent.

Mr Mer­ri­man and AWI chief ex­ec­u­tive Stu­art McCul­lough will front a Se­nate es­ti­mates hear­ing in Can­berra this week.

❝Never

be­fore have these meet­ings been held in a room with one-way glass to an­other room and if the AWI Board knew such a room was booked, it would have never al­lowed it... — Wal Mer­ri­man

PHOTO: FILE

SECRET OB­SERVER: Aus­tralian Wool In­no­va­tion chair­man Wal Mer­ri­man.

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