New count for wool levy vote

Countryman - - FRONT PAGE - Bob Gar­nant

The Aus­tralian Wool In­no­va­tion levy is in limbo af­ter the vote on the 1.5 per cent and 2 per cent op­tions was too close to call.

WoolPoll Panel chair­man Syd­ney Lawrie said the panel met this week to dis­cuss the un­usual cir­cum­stances, which the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment was work­ing through with share registry com­pany Link Mar­ket Ser­vices.

“I am not aware of how close the ini­tial vote be­tween 1.5 and 2 per cent was,” Mr Lawrie said.

AWI was ad­vised by Link Mar­ket Ser­vices that the level of par­tic­i­pa­tion in WoolPoll 2018 was 13,506 votes cast, rep­re­sent­ing 28.67 per cent of

The re­sult should have gone the way of a 1.5 per cent levy rate. WoolPoll panel mem­ber John Has­sell

in­di­vid­ual vot­ers and 55.92 per cent of to­tal votes pos­si­ble.

“None of the op­tions put to wool­grow­ers re­ceived the re­quired 50 per cent ma­jor­ity on the first count,” a Link Mar­ket­ing Ser­vices spokesman said.

Vot­ing in­struc­tions on the bal­lot pa­pers state that record­ing a num­ber 1 in the square next to the rate that the en­tity most prefers will sig­nify a counted vote.

The reg­u­la­tions also state that if the en­tity wishes, they can record the num­bers 2, 3 and so on in the squares next to as many of the other rates listed on the bal­lot to reg­is­ter their pref­er­ence.

AWI chief ex­ec­u­tive Stu­art McCul­lough said he was en­cour­aged by the strong level of par­tic­i­pa­tion. It will be the first time a pref­er­ence count has been called for.

“WoolPoll is one of the fun­da­men­tal prin­ci­ples of AWI, pro­vid­ing grow­ers with the demo­cratic op­por­tu­nity ev­ery three years to vote on the levy rate they pay to fund re­search, de­vel­op­ment and mar­ket­ing ac­tiv­i­ties,” he said. “Given wool prices and drought con­di­tions are af­fect­ing much of the in­dus­try, we ac­knowl­edge and un­der­stand that some grow­ers feel a 1.5 per cent levy is an ap­pro­pri­ate rate at this time.”

Mr McCul­lough said AWI was seek­ing ad­di­tional in­de­pen­dent ad­vice from Link and the De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture and Wa­ter Re­sources to en­sure an ap­pro­pri­ate so­lu­tion.

WoolPoll panel mem­ber and Pin­gelly farmer John Has­sell said he was sus­pi­cious of AWI’s an­nounce­ment this week that the vote out­come be­tween the 1.5 and 2 per cent levy op­tions were so close that the pref­er­ence count was called for.

Asked to par­tic­i­pate in a WoolPoll Panel meet­ing to dis­cuss the next course of ac­tion, Mr Has­sell said: “If AWI can sup­ply gen­uine ini­tial count de­tails, I will en­dorse my sup­port on the pref­er­ence count.”

Mr Has­sell said he could not be­lieve a levy out­come had not al­ready been achieved, given the in­tense pre-vote de­bate. “The re­sult should have gone the way of a 1.5 per cent levy rate,” he said.

A WoolPoll out­come is due to be an­nounced at AWI’s Novem­ber 23 an­nual gen­eral meet­ing, un­less more time is re­quired to de­cide a vot­ing out­come.

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