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Wool Board Acting Without Grower Mandate

ACT Rural Spokesman Owen Jennings today said the Wool Board does not have the mandate from wool growers it claims for the Board's leaked 'Sheep Industry Development Plan'.

"The Board, under clauses 8,9 and 10 of the Wool Board Act is required to consult with growers and interested representative organisations and to take account of grower concerns. The Board is choosing to ignore its legislative responsibilities.

"Statements by the Board Chairman about the Board's round of grower meetings and the reaction of wool growers are clearly at variance with the views of the majority of growers who were at those meetings.

"Farmers at the meetings claim that no definitive plan was put in front of them. They certainly did not see the 'Sheep Industry Development Plan'. Most attendees were critical of the Board's performance particularly where it had tried to become involved in the marketing of wool. If the Board does believe it has a mandate for its plan why has it required the carefully selected group of farmers that have seen the development plan to sign confidentiality agreements?

"I challenge the Board to provide detail of each of its meetings with figures showing the number of growers who voted for its Sheep Industry Development Plan. It is typical of the Board's arrogance that it claims one of its meetings, that voted 98% no confidence in the Board, was "stacked". Those wool growers are just as entitled to an opinion as any other. The Chairman's statement typifies the Board's attitude to consultation - "agree with us or we will ignore you".

"I also believe the development plan is ultra viries. I was one of the architects of the present Wool Board Act. The law deliberately gave the Board no powers to be involved in marketing or selling wool. That was the position supported by the majority of submissions at the time. I don't believe that view of growers has changed.

"The 'Sheep Industry Development Plan' is just another grandiose plan involving grower levies. It follows the failed 'Fernlink' debacle that cost growers $1 million dollars. Wool growers are fed up with these type of self preservation moves. The latest plan is an attempt by the Board to lock grower levy reserves into an Incorporated Society," said Owen Jennings.


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