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Sunday 22

July, 201810:58 AM



Wool industry review calls for overhaul

Wool industry review calls for overhaul

Australian Wool Innovation chairman Wal Merriman could be forced off the board of the scandal-plagued industry body after a review.

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By AAP 09.07.2018 01:45 PM

The controversial chairman of Australia's wool industry research body, who admitted secretly viewing farmers in a focus group through a one-way mirror, could be forced out the door.

A federal government-initiated independent review into Australian Wool Innovation has recommended 10-year limits for board members.

The long-awaited review comes after a string of scandals involving embattled chairman Wal Merriman.

Agriculture Minister David Littleproud has made it clear he wants all 82 recommendations acted on.

"I expect the AWI board to show strong leadership and work with woolgrowers to implement change, including cultural change," Mr Littleproud said.

Mr Merriman last year apologised for covertly watching farmers during a focus group which they believed was anonymous.

He would be unable to seek re-election if the recommendations are fully implemented, along with fellow directors David Webster and Meredith Sheil, because they've all been on the board for longer than 10 years.

Other recommendations include AWI moving to a skills-based board and providing transparency around use of proxy votes during board elections

Last year it was revealed Mr Merriman, through the use of proxies, controlled more than a fifth of votes cast in the most recent board elections.

He also admitted breaking AWI's code of conduct by telling an ABC reporter to f*** off and calling him as a "useless prick", when he attempted to interview him at a function last year.

The review said breaches of the code of conduct should be investigated independently, rather than by AWI.

Mr Littleproud said he expects changes to AWI's constitution to be ready in time for the organisation's annual general meeting in November.

Farmers and taxpayers fund AWI, which spends the bulk of its budget on marketing and the remainder on research and development in the wool industry.

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