A general lack of understanding of the AWB Group’s structure has unfortunately provided vested interests with an opportunity to spread misinformation about the operation and objectives of AWB and its management of the single desk, AWB Limited Chairman Brendan Stewart said today.
"The structure for the newly privatised AWB Limited was only agreed upon after extensive discussion and debate and finally endorsement by the Federal Parliament. The industry’s clear objective at the time was to deliver to growers a commercial company which they owned and controlled and which had as its overriding obligation to maximise their net pool returns," Mr Stewart said.
"The AWB Group is confident that the structure that was put in place by industry is achieving exactly what it was designed to do in all aspects.
"You only have to look at the company’s performance in maximising grower returns over the last three years to see AWB has been remarkably successful in delivering on this clear objective, and so the current situation is somewhat disappointing. However, the Board and I are committed to working with the Grains Council of Australia (GCA) to see that these perceptions are identified and resolved," Mr Stewart said.
"The GCA, which was instrumental in establishing AWB’s corporate structure in the lead up to 1999, shares the concerns of AWB regarding the current grower perception of the structure and intent of the AWB Group and is working with AWB over the coming months and will determine how this can be overcome", GCA President Keith Perrett said.
"In conjunction with AWB, we are establishing what growers perceive to be problems and seeing how these concerns can be overcome. This is very much a consultative process, including input from State Affiliates around the country, and will complement the GCA’s recently announced industry review which is looking at the broad direction of the Australian grains industry," said Mr Perrett.
Mr Stewart said AWB is the growers’ company and all involved in the privatisation process worked hard to get a structure which delivered what growers and the industry wanted - a grower owned and controlled company which maximises Pool returns while growing and diversifying its business.
"It is important that growers clearly understand how AWB is structured and operates. The GCA has the growers’ interest of ensuring that their pool returns are maximised and that the single desk marketing arrangements are maintained. GCA is the only organisation that genuinely represents the growers’ interests. It has no other corporate objective or conflict of interest," Mr Perrett said.