Growers vote for lower levy
AUSTRALIAN Wool Innovation has “heard the message” of wool growers, according to chief executive Stuart McCullough.
Mr McCullough was speaking after wool growers voted to reduce the levy they pay AWI for research and marketing to 1.5 per cent for the first time.
“We realise we need to be a bit more prudent, efficient, lean and transparent and we will do our best to keep all the programs running,” Mr McCullough said.
In another first, the WoolPoll result was determined by a count of preferences of the 13,506 votes received.
Following the allocation of three rounds of preferences, 52.82 per cent voted in favour of a 1.5 per cent levy for producers.
Before preferences were allocated, 44.77 per cent of voters had selected 1.5 per cent as their preferred option, while 43.51 per cent had selected the current level of 2 per cent.
Mr McCullough said AWI believed there were several factors in growers’ decision to vote for the reduced levy.
He said these factors included that “our reserves are quite decent, the drought and tough times and the proximity of the 1.5 and 2 per cent levy”.
“We know we have to consult with wool growers a bit better . . . we’ve already had an industry meeting and we will work hard and make sure we communicate to their satisfaction, we will listen a bit better as well.”
Mr McCullough said there was “no doubt” AWI revenue would be down after a lower levy kicked in.
He said continuing to run all AWI programs came down to “additional money” the board might take from reserves to spend more.
WoolProducers Australia president Richard Halliday said 1.5 per cent would provide ample money for AWI to conduct its current business as well as invest in relevant new areas.
Mr Halliday said the decision to advocate a lower levy was not a protest decision or linked to governance concerns.