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Beyond the Bale : March 2018
APPOINTMENT OF THE WOOLPOLL PANEL To make sure AWI delivers WoolPoll in line with the regulations, AWI is required to establish an independent panel of industry representatives – the WoolPoll Panel. The Panel examines and assesses the poll process and voting documentation, as appropriate, and plays a critical role in encouraging woolgrowers to vote. In November 2017, AWI appointed South Australian woolgrower Sydney Lawrie to chair the independent 2018 WoolPoll Panel. Together with his wife Therese and young family, Sydney owns and manages a sheep and cropping enterprise at Tumby Bay on South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula. His farming operation includes about 4,000 sheep and 7,000 acres of wheat, canola, barley, peas and oats. “Based on the advice of the 2015 WoolPoll Panel and the AWI Board, I asked grower representative groups to put forward nominees that would reflect the diversity of the Australian wool industry: male and female nominees; young growers and the not-so - young; and importantly, those who are actively engaged in industry networks,” Mr Lawrie said. With each WoolPoll to date, AWI has improved the delivery of the Poll, ensuring robust processes and transparency. Towards the end of 2017, AWI proposed the establishment of an independent selection committee for the first time, to assist Mr Lawrie in appointing members to the 2018 WoolPoll Panel from the list of nominees. Along with Mr Lawrie, the Selection Committee comprised Richard Halliday (WoolProducers Australia representative on AWI’s Woolgrower Industry Consultative Committee), Joann Wilkie from the Australian Government, and Jock Laurie (AWI Director). “There was a very strong field of nominees from across industry, making for some considerable deliberations by the Selection Committee,” explained Mr Lawrie. “While it was difficult to whittle down, I’m confident that the collective skillset of the eight growers we unanimously selected (see below left) will represent the wide range of woolgrower interests and confidently perform the important tasks required of the WoolPoll Panel 2018.” Representatives from the Australian Government and the AWI Board are also included in the eleven-member Panel. INDEPENDENT REVIEW OF AWI’S PERFORMANCE Prior to WoolPoll, AWI must undertake an independent review to assess its performance that can help woolgrowers make an informed decision when voting on the levy rate. The next independent review of performance will assess the period 1 July 2015 to 30 June 2018 and the summary report will be provided to eligible levy payers with their WoolPoll voting documents. When reports emerged of persons claiming they had not received their voting papers, AWI took immediate action to encourage affected persons to contact AWI’s share registry (Link Market Services) or AWI itself to get replacement voting papers sent to them where possible. Some AWI shareholders were able to do this. On 8 November, AWI also sent an email message to AWI shareholders reminding them that they could lodge their vote online. After the AGM, AWI decided to investigate the circumstances of the AGM mailout in 2017. As part of the investigation some industry bodies, after liaising with their networks, reported to AWI on persons affected. AWI also placed advertisements in rural newspapers nationally on two occasions in December inviting persons affected to contact AWI. The total number of responses from these sources was 83. To put things in perspective, it is important to note that the AGM mailout comprised posting hard copies to 18,618 AWI shareholders and emailing to an additional 5,460 AWI shareholders. The 83 responses have all been individually investigated. Initially AWI determined whether or not the persons are indeed AWI shareholders and their notified preferences for receiving communications from AWI (hard copy posting or email). Link Market Services then followed up with phone calls to all the persons for whom AWI has a phone contact, and letters to persons where AWI does not have a phone contact. Out of 83 responses, 63 had notified email as their preference for communications; 7 were not AWI shareholders; and only 13 had notified hard copy posting as their preference for communications. 15 of them had actually voted (online) after liaising with AWI in the final stages of availability for proxy voting. See below for a summary: During the lead up to the 2017 AWI AGM in November 2017, reports emerged of persons claiming that they did not receive their voting papers in time to vote in the 2017 AGM. This article reports on the results of an AWI investigation into the issue. AGM MAILING CONCLUSIONS AND ACTIONS The results of the investigation point to there being no significant failure in the hard copy posting. Nonetheless, AWI will assess whether a longer mail period than the present 3.5 weeks can be brought in for future AWI AGMs. The more important issue identified in the investigation was with persons who had nominated email as their preferred means of communication. AWI will correspond with all AWI shareholders regarding their preferences. AWI has a principally rural and geographically diverse shareholder base and the advantages of email correspondence are self-evident. AWI shareholders are encouraged to notify the share registry of any changes in their email address, the same way as they would for a change of physical mailing address. Further information about how to update contact details is available at www.wool.com/ share-registry. AWI shareholders will need their Shareholder Reference Number to access this facility for changing their details. They can also call Link Market Services toll free on 1800 113 373 to discuss their circumstances. Alternatively, AWI shareholders (and other wool levy payers) can complete the 'change of contact details' section on the mailing cover sheet that accompanies the hard copy of Beyond the Bale, and return the whole cover sheet to AWI as indicated. There were some other learnings from the AGM process on this occasion. Some AWI shareholders had difficulty with accessing the online voting portal operated by Link Market Services, and AWI will work with the share registry to make the portal as intuitive as possible. Some AWI shareholders expressed frustration in their dealings with the share registry when endeavouring to change an aspect of their contact or mailing arrangements. While security of shareholder information is the prime consideration, AWI believes that some flexibility may be available for dealings given that shares in AWI do not have a monetary value. AWI will liaise with the share registry on this. AWI encourages all wool levy payers to actively become an AWI shareholder and therefore be able to exercise their democratic vote at the AGM. Refer to www.wool.com/ shareholders for further information on how to become an AWI shareholder. UPFRONT 5
In the Shops - March 2018