Newly appointed Australian Wool Innovation chairman Colette Garnsey (OAM) has signalled a new era for the peak wool industry body, telling shareholders the company is committed to greater engagement with Australian woolgrowers.
Ms Garnsey used her speech to the Annual General Meeting to signal that it was a time of change at AWI.
“Our priority is to be a company that is engaged with all of its stakeholders – woolgrowers and shareholders, of course, but also the Government, farmers’ groups, the media, our supporters and, yes, those who hold a more critical view of our performance,” Ms Garnsey told the meeting.
“All have a stake in the future of the company, all want the very best for the wool industry – and all deserve a say and to be heard.”
Ms Garnsey told the meeting one of AWI’s highest priorities is responding to, and actioning, the 82 recommendations from the Review of Performance commissioned by the Federal Government.
“We are already 33 per cent of the way through the implementation process,” she said.
“For example, since the Review, we have introduced a board skills matrix in the 2018 Annual Report that will help ensure we have the right mix of skills and experience on our board. And we have appointed a general manager of operations – a new role that will allow our CEO to focus on more strategic activities.
“Of the 82 recommendations in the Report, there are 75 which we have accepted and actioned. Of the remaining ones, there are two that are the subject of continued negotiations with the Department. There are also five we expect to put to shareholders at a general meeting in mid-March after a period of consultation.”
Turning to the results of WoolPoll 2018, Ms Garnsey said AWI was encouraged and humbled that the vast majority of woolgrowers saw the value in AWI’s work and were prepared to contribute towards the company’s R&D and marketing efforts on their behalf.
“But do not doubt for a minute that we have not heard the message that we must do more to earn and retain the trust and confidence of our shareholders,” Ms Garnsey told shareholders.
“We are determined to maintain the momentum in our international marketing efforts and in our investments in R&D.
“We must give you the confidence that your levies are being invested effectively and efficiently. AWI must continue to run lean, with every dollar spent wisely and every dollar accounted for.
“All stakeholders can expect to see and hear more from me and my AWI colleagues as we seek to unite the wool industry behind a common goal: to help woolgrowers be their best and get the best returns for their hard work.
“Consultation, of course, is pointless without transparency and I want an AWI that is open and accountable and today is a step in that process.”