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CBH governance review and grower meetings show appetite for change

During the past six months, the CBH board has conducted a governance review.

The aim of the review has been to ensure we have the highest standards of governance so the co-operative remains strong and delivers value to our members for the long term.

Importantly, our members have been at the centre of the review.

Feedback at our Statewide grower meetings and through a comprehensive grower survey that captured views on potential governance improvements has shaped the outcomes.

From the feedback received, it is clear that there is support for change to our governance, with the majority of growers supporting improvements including introducing director tenure limits and reducing the board in size from 12 directors to 10 directors with the introduction of a hybrid model.

At our annual general meeting next month, the board is taking proposed changes to the CBH rules that would implement these two governance improvements.

The introduction of tenure limits is aimed at facilitating new ideas, fresh thinking and diversity of perspectives on the board, and to encourage renewal while retaining experience.

The hybrid model would include five district-elected member directors, two Statewide-elected member directors, and up to three independent directors.

I encourage all members to take the time to understand the proposals and have your say by voting on the resolutions.

The board recommends that members support the resolutions for several reasons.

Research on governance best practice from co-operative peers and other governance bodies clearly shows smaller boards are generally more agile and efficient in their decision-making and have increased personal involvement and accountability of directors.

Most importantly, CBH directors are required to act in the best interest of all co-operative members, not just their district.

This is why we have proposed the hybrid model to members.

The hybrid model allows for district-elected directors to continue bringing valuable knowledge from their districts, and widens the pool of available potential directors for the Statewide-elected directors.

Together with the introduction of a candidate assessment panel, these changes all encourage merit-based voting of member directors.

If the resolution to reduce the board in size is supported by members at the AGM, we will manage a considered transition over two years, and work with natural election timelines and current vacancies to implement the changes in a considered manner with minimal impact to existing positions.

I would like to reiterate the board’s unwavering commitment to our co-operative structure and ensuring that our co-operative is set up for success for many years to come.

Based on the evidence gathered during the governance review, including from successful co-operatives that had survived crisis and a failed co-operative, one consistent theme emerged — successful co-operatives review and improve their governance structures and processes.

The notice of meeting articulates a clear path forward for either a “yes” or “no” vote on the introduction of director tenure limits and the board size reduction.

While the board has done extensive research, engaged with members and made recommendations, the changes are now in members’ hands, and I strongly encourage you to exercise your vote.

Simon Stead,

CBH chair

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