AWI board nomination committee funding details revealed

AWI board nomination committee funding details revealed

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Australian Wool Innovation provided about $90,000 to fund its board nomination committee this year.

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The processes of Australian Wool Innovation's board nomination committee have been discussed in Senate estimates.

The processes of Australian Wool Innovation's board nomination committee have been discussed in Senate estimates.

Australian Wool Innovation has provided about $90,000 funding to the body's independent board nomination committee this year, the Senate's Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Committee has heard.

Senator Glenn Sterle raised the issue of how much funding AWI provided to the independent board nomination committee during the most recent Senate estimates.

The role of the five-person committee is to deliver a recommendation to AWI shareholders on who it considers the best board applicants out of the field of nominees ahead of voting.

The board nomination committee, which included three independent members and two AWI directors, delivered their report in mid-October, ahead of the upcoming annual general meeting.

The figures were provided by AWI company secretary Jim Story to the Senate committee, although he originally queried whether the figures were "commercial-in-confidence matters".

But Senator Sterle pointed out that AWI funds included taxpayer dollars and levy payers dollars.

"Unless I'm overwritten by the clerk and the Senate processes, you cannot hide behind confidentiality," he said.

Mr Story went on to tell the committee that board nomination committee chair Samantha Hogg had a contract to the value of $20,000, the costs of the search firm amounted to about $60,000 and committee member Simon Cameron, independently nominated by industry received fees expected to be "in the region of $10,000 in his case".

Senator Sterle also questioned the independence of the committee, asking if AWI could " understand how the BNC might look like a virtual political arm of their current board by ensuring that the status quo is re-elected?"

But Mr Story said there were a majority of independent members on the committee.

"It really is quite in order Senator, for AWI to have representation on it, AWI directors have a lot of knowledge," he said.

"This becomes a bit of a philosophical argument... and one thing AWI will do is after this election cycle, have another look at the BNC and the way it works and if people have feedback that it could be improved again, then no doubt the board will look at it.

"But if anyone were to suggest to you that the work of this committee has been anything other than diligent and independent, then we would bridle about that Senator, to be frank."

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Mr Story also said the board nomination's committee's choice to recommend four candidates "creates an issue in itself, because-near certainly-there are only going to be three positions available".

"But that's what they decided; that's their call," he said.

"They did not rate the candidates. They just said, 'These four.'

"It's a matter for shareholders if they want to take note of the committee's recommendations to go from there."

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The story AWI board nomination committee funding details revealed first appeared on Farm Online.

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