AWB International (AWBI) Chairman, Brendan Stewart, today responded to the release of the 2004 Wheat Marketing Review report stating the findings clearly demonstrated the Single Desk was in safe hands with AWBI and the system continued to deliver benefits to Australian wheat growers.
The Independent Panel conducting the 2004 Wheat Marketing Review concluded that AWBI’s performance in international markets had resulted in significant benefits to growers, confirming that the Boards of both AWB Limited and AWBI had fulfilled their responsibilities to maximise grower returns.
“The Panel has found AWBI has performed well in achieving price premiums and that we have effectively segregated and blended wheat to meet customer demands, while rewarding growers with delivery through Golden Rewards – all of which are key outcomes for growers,” Mr Stewart said.
“On the other most significant criteria on which AWBI’s performance was judged – our ability to manage the domestic supply chain – the Panel found AWBI should continue to control the negotiation of storage, handling and freight for the National Pool and retain an “at silo” model, to maintain Australian wheat quality and decision-making control right along the supply chain,” Mr Stewart said.
Mr Stewart said the Panel also found that AWBI had:
- implemented a sound risk management system and improved corporate governance;
- developed effective key performance indicators aligned with corporate priorities;
- developed the Wheat Industry Benchmark to objectively measure Pool management performance;
- increased its communication and transparency;
- maintained high returns to growers through strategic marketing and logistics management; and
- enhanced returns through active commodity and foreign exchange management.
While the Independent Panel has re-confirmed the Single Desk is being managed in the best interests of growers, several recommendations have been put forward to further improve AWBI’s operations.
“The Board of AWBI has put in place a process to examine ways of making changes designed to address many of the issues identified by the Independent Panel. While the Board will continue down this path, we will require time to fully consider the recommendations and consult with growers, grower groups and government to determine what changes may be required, ” Mr Stewart said
“After this process is complete AWBI will communicate its response to stakeholders,” Mr Stewart said.
Mr Stewart also noted the Review process covering the last nine months had been exhaustive with AWBI providing the Independent Panel with a comprehensive submission, full access to financial information, including commercial contracts, corporate risk systems and legal advice, as well as facilitating interviews with AWB employees.
“Few companies in Australia have faced the same level of scrutiny of their activities and as such the process should give confidence to growers and government about the way in which AWBI is managing the Single Desk,” Mr Stewart said.
“That is why AWB supports the Government’s position that it will not undertake any further reviews of the wheat marketing arrangements before 2010,” Mr Stewart said.
Mr Stewart thanked the Independent Panel conducting the 2004 Wheat Marketing Review, saying he believed they had brought a high level of integrity and commercial acumen to the review.