Purge at the top sets Herefords Australia in new direction

Beef Central, 23/06/2017

A NEW chairman and five new board directors have been appointed, as Herefords Australia strives to re-right the ship following dramatic internal events within the breed society over the past few months.

New Herefords Australia chairman, Bill Kee

Following the Herefords Australia annual general meeting held in Armidale on Wednesday, the board has elected Bill Kee from Warringa Hereford Stud in Yarram Victoria, as its new chairman.

Mr Kee has been a member of Herefords Australia and its predecessor organisation since 1987, and was one of five new directors elected to the board this week.

In his election profile, Mr Kee, who has 35 years of experience as a lawyer, said he wanted to “return stability and confidence to the board, management, staff, and members and to ensure that Herefords hold a strong and respected position in the beef industry.”

“There has been a substantial appetite from members for change, and this has been exhibited by the election of five new directors,” Mr Kee said.

Elected vice chairman was Scott Hann from Truro Whiteface, Bellata NSW, was while a newly-formed Finance, Audit, and Risk Committee was created, chaired by another new director, Tony Haggarty of Tamworth NSW.

Horned directors elected on Wednesday are Geoff Birchnell, Tim Burvill, Steve Crowley, Bruce Gunning, Tony Haggarty, Scott Hann, Kevin Hillsdon, Bill Kee, Hillary O’Leary, outgoing chairman Pat Pearce, Anne Starr, and Trish Worth.

Eleven special resolutions to amend the HA constitution were put forward by a group of members and were voted on at the AGM. All were defeated.

Although there was a strong vote for the changes to the constitution (full poll results will be available on the Herefords Australia website in the coming days), the required 75 percent of the vote was not achieved. The HA board said it was working on implementing a new constitution, to reflect members’ desire for change.

HA chief executive officer Dr Alex Ball dramatically resigned in early May as infighting raged over how to modernise the organisation and stem a predicted $1 million operating loss. The integrity of the breed register was also brought into question.

Leaked internal HA emails in April suggested a toxic culture existed within many elements of the breed society. A $1 million trading loss was forecast in 2016-17, in addition to calls for hard decision-making and assertions that the breed’s database and registry were a ‘debacle.’

“You cannot have a breed register that does not have 100 percent integrity, and yet policies and decisions have been made that protect the few and disadvantage the many,” the emails stated.

“You simply must adopt 100 percent sire verification for all registered animals regardless of the cost as this is the core asset that protects the breed.”

Dr Ball told media earlier that while he had no conflict with the board, there was a small number of breeders who did not see a pathway forward for a modern breed organisation. He said these members found change — such as the need to introduce parentage verification, genetic evaluation, DNA testing and carcase performance research — confronting.

New HA chairman, Bill Kee’s Warringa Herefords is one of only seven Hereford herds in Australia with a Gold Five-star rating under BreedPlan’s Completeness of Performance herd rating system.


  • Dr Ball is due to leave HA on June 30. The society has advertised for a new CEO, including ads on Jobs Central, but no appointment has yet been announced.



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