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Australian Wool Organisation to be replaced

Details of the new commercial wool services company that will replace the Australian Wool Research and Promotion Organisation (AWRAP), have been agreed to, the Federal Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Warren Truss, announced today.

Mr Truss said the new company structure would deliver on the recommendations of the McLachlan report on the future of the wool industry. The new structure will ensure wool levy funds are invested in targeted R&D activitiesand innovation, the commercialisation of new technologies and in providing the industry with focussed and innovative services.

"This is exactly what Australia's woolgrowers have been asking for," Mr Truss said. "It reflects the outcome of the WoolPoll 2000 vote and will reduce day-to-day government involvement in industry affairs and provide levy payers with a greater say in their industry's future.

"The new structure, which will come under Australia's corporations law, will help ensure the decisions on how wool levy funds are spent are more transparent and contestable. It will also be a much more flexible organisation, better able to adapt to changing circumstances.

"I would like to commend the Interim Advisory Board, under Chair Rodney Price, and the Woolgrowers Advisory Group, under Chair David Webster, for their considerable efforts in helping developing the new arrangements."

Mr Truss said that work would now begin on converting restructuring AWRAP into a 'corporations law' company that will be limited by shares and include a holding company and possibly with two main subsidiary companies. The holding company is expected to be in place by 1 January 2001. The Government is planning for the new arrangements to be in place by 1 January 2001.

"One of the subsidiaries will take over the work of the Woolmark Company," he said. "This would involve the commercial development of the Woolmark and its sub-brands and the commercialisation of intellectual property matters.

"The other subsidiary will manage the proceeds from the wool levy, and also outsource research and development and intellectual property management. After a 12 to 24 month transition period, the Board will consider the option of dissolving the holding AWRAP successor company and leaving the subsidiaries as stand-alone commercial companies directly owned bywith woolgrowers as shareholders."

Mr Truss said there is still much work to be done between now and 1 January 2001to establish the new arrangements.

"A comprehensive shareholder register needs to be established on the basis of wool taxes paid with appropriate checks and balances. As well, lLegislation needs to be drafted and introduced into Parliament later this year along with all the necessary commercial requirements of establishing a corporations law company," he said.

"I urge woolgrowers to maintain their support for industry reform, particularly now as we enter the crucial, final phase."

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