Pingelly woolgrower John Hassell has retained his spot as an independent director on the WoolProducers Australia board with a two-year term aim to drive better results for the wool industry.
WoolProducers president Ed Storey was also returned as president at the wool lobby group’s annual meeting held virtually last Thursday, Gippsland grower Steven Harrison was also renominated as vice president.
Riverina woolgrower Stacey Lugsdin was also reappointed to the board.
Mr Hassell said he was pleased to retain his seat on the board and had big plans.
“We will be looking for new opportunities and providing suggestions to Australian Wool Innovation on how to get its best results and if necessary, hold them to account,” Mr Hassell said.
“WoolProducers is also concerned that the wool industry has been very heavily reliant on China and we need to be looking for other alternative markets.
“Ultimately, I would like to see sheep numbers come back up in WA, because it would provide less of a risk in terms of production and its a very good mix with cropping with a good stable income.”
Mr Hassell, who has served as a WoolProducers director since 2017, said the AWI board needed to have a bit more openness and accountability to its members.
He said it was important that AWI had its “governance right”.
“The way the board behaved recently to appoint former chief executive Stuart McCullough to go and do an oversees marketing post was a poor example,” Mr Hassell said.
“Stuart McCullough’s new appointment should have been made by the CEO, and not the board.
“WoolProducers has been encouraging the Federal Government to enact all of the recommendations to AWI from the Ernst and Young report.”
Federal Agriculture Minister David Littleproud asked for a review to be conducted by Ernst and Young in 2018, which resulted in more than 80 recommendations.
Last year, Mr Littleproud said while there had been improvements, but it had not been enough and AWI should continue to work towards the change needed.
Mr Hassell said the AWI board had been very resolute and strong in not doing that.
“In terms of mulesing, the AWI board is negatively opposed to having any mandate on a time to stop mulesing and I am not sure they are putting research into the right places,” he said.
Mr Hassell said there was now a premium for non-mulesed wool and more and more people were heading towards that option.
Speaking at the AGM, Mr Storey said he was very pleased to be serving a fourth and final year as president.
“I am pleased to again be re-elected into the presidents role of WoolProducers to lead the organisation for another 12 months representing the interests of Australian woolgrowers,” he said.
“WoolProducers has had an extremely productive year and delivered many positives for the industry as a whole, including the launch of the Trust in Australian Wool campaign and the Sheep Sustainability Framework, and I look forward to another constructive year ahead.”
Mr Storey said there was a return of three incumbent independent directors including NSW-based Stacey Lugsdin, Mr Hassell and Steve Harrison, of Victoria.
“We are fortunate to have the three independent growers of the calibre of Stacey, John and Steve, and I’m very pleased to have Steve returned as vice -president,” he said.
A key priority of WoolProducers during the next year is to ensure that industry service providers and organisations are working together more efficiently and effectively on behalf of woolgrowers.
“The reality is our industry is facing a number of factors, including the recovery from the pandemic, the EU labelling laws and labour shortages while our industry competes for land use from other commodities,” Mr Storey said.
“It is time that vested interests and agendas are put aside from all parties in the hope of stabilising and growing our wonderful industry.”
Mr Storey said WoolProducers, through its nationally representative nature and established position in the industry, could play a constructive role in facilitating outcomes and representing growers’ interests across a wide range of issues.
“WoolProducers has demonstrated that it can work with all sectors of industry from production through to export and internationally and will continue to work with all parties to ensure a bright future for the Australian wool industry,” he said.