Deniliquin Pastoral Times
Candidates combine to influence change at MIL United front
Two candidates for the Murray Irrigation Ltd election have joined forces because they want to “strengthen local shareholder influence” on the company.
If successful, they will oust MIL chairman Phil Snowden, who is also standing for re-election.
Current director Waander Van Beek and new candidate Lachlan Marshall have previously said they want MIL to take a stronger role in advocacy on behalf of shareholders and the community.
They want to be part of a company that respects its community and is led by a Board that has a high level of accountability across all levels of the organisation.
“Under the present regime we are not fighting hard enough to ensure our region has a reliable and affordable water supply into the future,” Mr Van Beek said.
“Unfortunately, as a sitting director it has been difficult enforcing change. Our management wants to take a ‘softly softly’ approach and this is generally supported by the independent directors who don’t want to ‘rock the boat’. It is not in their interest to have conflict with governments.
“In my view, and from my experience on the Board, our current chairman is not prepared to stand up and demand stronger advocacy on behalf of shareholders. We need to tip the balance on the Board and I believe adding Lachlan Marshall, who is a proven strong advocate for
our region, will help achieve this.
“That will be good for MIL, its shareholders and our region in general,” Mr Van Beek said.
Mr Marshall said he does not want to be a lone voice on an MIL Board that is not prepared to stand up and fight for shareholders and their rights.
Mr Marshall has become a prominent player in water advocacy as the current chair of the Speak Up Campaign and deputy chair of Murray Regional Strategy Group, which is now the major advocacy organisation for the region.
“Through MRSG we have developed relationships with government personnel and I am confident we are making progress. However, I have long questioned the support in advocacy from MIL. It’s minimal and sometimes tokenistic, yet with the resources at its disposal this is the organisation that should be leading the way.
“I understand Waander’s
frustrations. By joining forces, we believe we will have a unique opportunity to ensure MIL puts its shareholders first and foremost.
“I don’t think most shareholders think that is presently the case and it needs to change,” Mr Marshall said.
He added in recent times MIL has often avoided being involved in advocacy efforts to secure reliable and affordable water for shareholders.
“In government policy areas where MIL should have a loud voice on issues directly impacting its shareholders there has been a vacuum. It doesn’t want to get involved in politics, yet as shareholders we are being affected by poor political decisions.
“Together, and with additional support from shareholder directors, Waander and I will work hard to influence a change in direction, for the benefit of regional food and fibre production,” Mr Marshall said.