A group of cattle producers has sent an open letter to the chair of the Grassfed Cattle Industry Restructure Steering Committee calling for answers to several questions about the current process to replace Cattle Council of Australia with Cattle Australia as the sector’s new peak industry council.
The distribution of the letter to media today precedes an online ‘Industry Leaders Forum’ meeting tomorrow, June 30, at which the chair of the restructure steering committee, Andrew Macaulay, is sheduled to give an update on the progress of the restructure process so far.
Under its terms of reference the steering committee “to realise the funding and formation of a new peak body by 1 July 2022”, which is this Friday.
The letter is signed by Brad Bellinger, David Byard and Andy Rea representing the Australian Beef Association and John Gunthorpe, Vince Ptolomy and Alf Collins representing the Australian Cattle Industry Council.
It assets that numerous questions remain unanswered about the restructure progress and process and calls for a clearer understanding for industry on what has been achieved by the steering committee to date.
Among a range of questions the letter seeks clarification on what stumbling points stood in the way of that target being met, why a proposed voluntary levy has not been adopted, and why the process is now being handed back to Cattle Council of Australia, as referred to in this article on Monday.
Questions it raises include:
- What are the main stumbling points the committee could not resolve? We assume funding, constitution, election process, and what others?
- We understand there was agreement by Minister Littleproud to allow 50 cents of the $5 transaction levy to be used to fund the organisation by way of an opt-out voluntary contribution. Why was this never adopted?
- Was there concern in the committee about implementing Plan 4b of the Plan on a Page and the Flight Path? Why did they not follow the Flight Path and not implement Plan 4b? These were set out in their Terms of Reference signed off by the ILF and remain their primary objective.
- Was it always intended by some members of the committee to kick the process down the road so CCA could continue as Peak Council with a change of name and an election process designed by CCA?
- When was it decided to pass the process back to CCA and by whom was it decided?
- What has happened to the costs of the process to date? Are there financial reports available? Who was responsible for approving the payments by the committee? Who approved the regular payments to the chair and the secretary?
- Has the $500,000 of taxpayer contributions from the previous government been spent?
- Did the committee approve the appointment of Mallesons to prepare the constitution? What instructions were given to the lawyers regarding the preparation of the constitution?
- How were their payments authorised and by whom? Can industry see a copy of the drafted constitution so we can understand what progress has been made, and where the difficulties are?
- Were minutes kept of the committee meetings and distributed regularly? Are these now available to industry members?
Restructure Steering Committee response
Beef Central sought a response to the letter and questions from the Restructure Steering Committee.
The following response was received from RSC chair Andrew Macaulay on Wednesday evening:
“The grass-fed cattle Restructure Steering Committee (RSC) were tasked with the role of developing a clear and achievable plan for the advent of a new democratic grass-fed cattle peak body, representing the interests of levy payers. On behalf of the RSC, I’m pleased to report that after many years of debate and stalled attempts, this vision is about to be realised. The RSC have worked diligently throughout 2022, engaging with stakeholders – listening, learning and interrogating all practical options. This engagement has been supported by over 20 RSC meetings, where there has been vigorous debate, discussion and investigation of all such options. All members of the RSC have generously given their time and expertise to ensure the successful achievement of their remit – the delivery to Cattle Council of Australia of a new constitution and vision, paving the way for democratic elections of a new Board in November 2022 and the launch of Cattle Australia – the new national peak body for the grass-fed cattle industry, providing a visible, singular and influential voice for the grass-fed producers.
“As the legal entity with the fiduciary responsibility and authority, Cattle Council of Australia will now implement the final steps of the evolution from CCA to Cattle Australia through the holding of a Special General Meeting (planned for August/September) to adopt the new constitution and commence the election process for the new Cattle Australia Board. The election process will take place from approximately September to November, with the new Board announced at the Annual General Meeting in November 2022.
“We would encourage all grass-fed cattle producers to sign up to the Cattle Australia newsletter database (www.cattleaustralia.com.au/subscribe) so they will have the opportunity to cast their vote when the elections are held. This will allow grass-fed cattle producers to have their say on the future direction of the grass-fed cattle industry and ensure that grass-fed levies support producers and a stronger grass-fed economy.”
I really think these processes for reform are destined for failure unless the peak Council has its own source of income so as to be completely independent of levy money or government largesse. As Senator Barry O’Sullivan once said, for the producer lobby to be effective the Halls of Parliament should shake when the cattle producers enter. Any restructure should focus in its financial independence first, and, if it cant see that, it should stop.
Everything that Peter Noble has mentioned is true, it has been true for a long period of time now. Regardless, the time for the restructure process is long overdue!
I am sure everyone understands there is a process to winding up the existing body, the existing body has a constitution and those responsible have a duty to ensure that it is followed.
As far as the proposed constitution for the new body goes that will be up to the inaugural Board of Cattle Australia, it is unlikely that there will be unanimous agreement in the first instance, that should not deter those that are interested from becoming involved,there is a road map or a flight path if you like. At the end of the day it will be up to individual producers to influence the outcome, that has always been the case!
Let’s get on with it, there are some issues of concern that are way past overdue in needing to be dealt with, these are whole of industry issues and it is critical that grass-fed producers are represented in those discussions.
The issues are many and quite daunting if you stop to think about it, the next concerning headline is only 24 hours away it would seem
That being said, it is also a time of opportunity, never has this industry been in a better position to unify and confront the challenges because there is a chance that taking full advantage of the opportunities might go a long way towards ensuring we aren’t overwhelmed by the challenges!
Oh no- here we go again! Same old names and same old destructive ways, whilst claiming to represent grass-fed beef producers and their interests. Beef Central can you please do an analysis of how many REAL members the Australian Beef Association and the Australian Cattle Industry Council actually have? Then we as an industry might question why these self proclaimed leaders of industry get so much airtime, including on Beef Central and rather staggeringly a seat at the table on any industry related issue.
Beef Central has in the past asked for evidence of ABA paid membership numbers. Nothing was provided. Editor
Marc the ABA has a solid enough established membership for the organization to keep going for nearly 24 years. In my experience those who attack those who ask legitimate questions of the establishment are usually those who gain from the establishment
Disappointing Marc that you again attack the people when you cannot debate the policy. Our membership grew during the BJD debacle when AgForce and CCA demanded the then Queensland Government quarantine cattle producers “suspect” of BJD. As we moved around Australia more and more joined our cause to change the BJD policy. We won that fight but not until cattle producers were sent to the wall and massive personal losses incurred.
It could be asked of CCA and the SFOs what grass-fed cattle producers they have as members. We know CCA failed to attract direct membership last decade, and only at Beef 2021 when membership was made free did they attract some 1.000 members.
Livestock SA have the right idea. They walked away from the SFO model and went back to commodities to form organisations. So to be a member of Livestock SA you have to be a livestock producers – beef, sheep and goats. Why don’t the other SFOs struggling for membership and funds follow SA’s example?
Australian Cattle Industry Council
Cattle Council rebadged and the balance of grassfed cattle producers with no early access to the draft constitution will not cut the mustard.
Democratic elections of board members is one thing, but democratic represenattion of all levy payers by those elected without linkages back to incorported represenative organisations of those levy payers would be an entirely different matter. This is the main question I have that needs resolution.
Thankyou Beef Central for your diligence in reporting & informing producers around this topic.
We wait with interest to hear the answer to these questions.
The questions raised above are all valid and require answering before the process continues.
Why the cloak and dagger, once and for all we have the opportunity to have transparency in the process to deliver are new representative body but it appears some vested interests aren’t interested enough to utilise this once in a generation opportunity.
Don’t continue playing politics with the beef industry’s future.