Australian Wool Innovation will this week deliver a plan to implement 75 of the 82 recommendations handed down after a performance review of the industry body earlier this year.
AWI was given a deadline of Friday October 19 to present a plan to implement the recommendations to the Federal Agriculture Minister and AWI chief executive officer, Stuart McCullough says they will meet that deadline.
A website, built by AWI to keep woolgrowers informed about the implementation process, indicates the AWI board has, so far, only agreed to 75 of the recommendations.
Five recommendations have been marked for shareholder consideration while another two have been agreed to ‘in principle’ only.
“Some of the recommendations are rather open-ended and rely on us coming back with models, irrespective of whether we are looking at the constitutional items or the governance items,” Mr McCullough said.
“We have gone away and are now ready to come back with an implementation plan by the deadline date.”
Mr McCullough said the two items flagged ‘agree in principle’ were contingent on legal advice the board is due to receive on constitutional changes.
“One of them we are discussing at the moment and I think it will end up being agreed, but it is contingent on a decision that we don’t have control of at the moment, depending on what might come out of an EGM next year,” Mr McCullough said.
Those two recommendations that AWI ‘agree in principle’ are related to the selection process of the Board Nomination Committee (BNC), a key concern that has risen from the inquiry under which many in the industry have called for more transparency.
“We are looking closely at the BNC at the moment,” Mr McCullough said.
“We are progressing with a model and the board is trying to do is steer away from a constitutional vote as much as possible.
“Many of these things require a lot of thought, even though in isolation they don’t look that tough.”
Mr McCullough said a range of about 90 to 95pc of their recommendations will be done according to their timelines or earlier, but he admits some will take more time.
“There are some that simply can’t be rushed and especially with the legal advice we have received and how it might affect the DNA of the company,” he said.
“The will of the board, absolutely exudes to agree to as many of these recommendations as possible and model it in a way that addresses the intent of the recommendations.
“But our aim is to address them as quickly as possible and not spend too much money on the way through.”
Minister Littleproud said he sees not reason why AWI’s implementation plan will not be on time.
“The department has been liaising with AWI and anticipates receiving the plan on time on Friday, as required by the statutory funding agreement between the Department of Agriculture and AWI,” Mr Littleproud said.
“The plan will is expected to provide details on how AWI will implement EY’s recommendations.”
Mr McCullough said AWI are continuing to look at ways to improve the portal including numbering how many recommendations have been completed rather than just a percentage.
“By the time this document is fully completed, it will be open for two years. What we plan to do is begin filling in in detail how we actually implemented those things,” he said.
“When we get down the track a year and half away, I think you will find most of these items were addressed before the EY timeline.
“That is why we have put a completion date on the timeline as well as the EY date because we want that to be obvious in 12 months time – that we have addressed theme prior to deadline.”
He said by the end of this calendar year he expects they will have in excess of 60 per cent of the recommendations completed.
“I think we will move from where we are now to 50pc in the next couple of weeks, maybe more,” he said.
“We are just working hard to get the work done.”
Meanwhile Fairfax Agricultural Media has queried one of the recommendations stating that the BNC should comprise of a Chair independent of the wool industry and independent from AWI, initially appointed by the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.
The recommendation instructs that this should be implemented by October, 31 2018 so that it is in operation for the next Director election cycle.
Given the short window of time, the Department of Agriculture was contacted for clarification on this, however did not respond before deadline.