Members have their say on GrainGrowers' constitution

During March and April GrainGrowers Chair John Eastburn and Chief Executive Officer Alicia Garden carried out regional consultations with growers as part of the organisation’s Build a Better GrainGrowers initiative.

The purpose of the initiative is to consult GrainGrowers members on potential changes including to the composition of the Board, voting mechanisms and membership classifications.Preliminary consultations carried out across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia revealed a consistent sentiment towards the changes.

Board composition

“Grower feedback was clear – members want the Board to be made of a majority of grain growers and they highly value the region-specific nature of this structure,” Mr Eastburn said. 

Currently the GrainGrowers eight-member Board consists of six grower directors (x2 northern region, x2 southern region, x2 western region) and two independent directors.

Mr Eastburn said growers expressed a desire to see independent directors appointed (as opposed to elected) and were supportive of an audit of the skills needed to carry out the responsibilities of the Board.

“It is important to note that the Board is a governance board that operates solely on a national basis.  It is responsible for managing GrainGrowers capital base and setting the strategic direction of the organisation. Their role is separate from regional representation and debate of policy issues that is the remit of the National Policy Group.

“The Board's responsibilities require specific skill-sets – without a doubt, among which is experience in, and knowledge of, grain production,” Mr Eastburn said. 

Voting mechanisms

The Chair said members were also vocal about the voting process by which Directors are elected.

“The allocation of standing proxies in Board elections continues to be a point of discontentment amongst members.

 “Unfortunately due to legislation (section 250A Corporations Act Cth 2001) the Board is constrained in its ability to do away with this mechanism.

“However we remain committed to encouraging members to direct vote in preference to standing proxies and will again this year be actively working to reduce the number of standing proxies on our register.”

This process last year resulted in one third of standing proxies being resigned in favour of direct voting.

Mr Eastburn said members were also in favour of removing the ‘against’ option from the vote question – in preference of the options ‘Yes’ and ‘Abstain’.  Advice is being sought as to whether this is a legal option.

Membership classification

Growers were also supportive of the proposal to change simplify membership from three classes (ordinary, blue and gold) to one class.

“We currently have no Gold members and there are very few if any differences in the operation of both the blue and ordinary classes,” the Chair said.

 “So on face-value it does not seem logical to continue to make the distinction.”

 Input still welcome 

Members are invited to continue to provide input to the Build a Better GrainGrowers initiative here .

“Between now and July the Board will be compiling feedback from the consultation process.

“All proposed changes will be put to a vote at the 2016 Annual General Meeting on Tuesday 27 September in Albury.

“However at the moment – it appears members are largely comfortable with the status quo – particularly in relation to Board grower representation,” Mr Eastburn said.

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