Opinion: CPA welcomes CCA direct-elect plan, but says flaws remain

Paul Wright, 14/05/2019

In this contributed opinion article Cattle Producers Australia chair Paul Wright says Cattle Council Australia’s move to a fully directly elected board is a step in the right direction, but says giving each state the same represention on the board is fundamentally flawed. 

The Chair of Cattle Producers Australia Limited (CPA) Dr Paul Wright welcomes the announcement by Cattle Council Australia (CCA) recognising the need to move to a fully elected board for cattle industry representation.

Dr Paul Wright

The announcement by CCA does not specify who the voters for a directly elected board would be. CPA presumes that CCA means that levy-paying grass-fed cattle producers from each State may stand for election and that those who vote will be grass-fed cattle transaction levy paying producers.

“This is the representation that is needed for the beef industry sector,” Dr Wright said. “If the vote is restricted to State Farm Organisations (SFOs) members then, given the small percentage of grass-fed cattle producers that are members of SFO’s the outcome would not provide true representation for all of Australia’s grass-fed cattle producers.”

“The CCA concept of each Australian State and the Northern Territory electing one person onto a seven person grass-fed cattle producer Peak Industry Council board is however fundamentally flawed.

“Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) published 2016/17 figures showed that Queensland had 11.1 million head of cattle and Tasmania 700,000 So it is difficult to understand why Tasmania should have the same number of representatives on the Peak industry Council board as Queensland.”

CCA joined with the other Australian grass-fed cattle producer bodies in early 2015 to form the Cattle Producers Australia Implementation Committee to create a truly democratic grass-fed cattle producer Peak industry Council.

CCA initiated the concept of a 15 person Policy Advisory Council directly elected by grass-fed cattle transaction levy payers from 15 Regions across Australia.

This has been enshrined in CPA’s constitution. Furthermore, CCA specified a 7 person board directly elected by Australia’s grass-fed cattle transaction levy payers from those 15 Policy Advisory Counsellors as is also reflected in CPA’s Constitution.

Dr Wright said, “This structure provided Queensland with 4 of the 15 Policy Advisory Councillors and Tasmania 1.“

“It is difficult to understand why CCA does not adopt the directly elected structure that they helped devise in 2015 and promulgated to the grass-fed cattle producer industry and government for the next three years.”

CPA considers CCA’s announcement that it again supports a directly elected representative structure is a step in the right direction and will advise CCA that CPA remains ready for talks on this issue.

“This should happen soon because the time for the implementation of the reforms to the current red meat industry organisational structures is now “Dr Wright said.

The Red Meat MOU Review is currently underway with almost all industry submissions to that Review calling for substantial changes.

There is common ground amongst the red meat industry sectors for the need to provide adequate funding to the Peak Industry Councils to carry out their functions and to gain adequate control and direction over the expenditure of their respective sector’s levies. There also appears to be common ground for the need for a restructured refocussed Red Meat Advisory Council (RMAC) to advocate on behalf of the whole of the red meat industry in areas of common commercial interest.

“Senate Inquiry after Senate Inquiry and Productivity Commission inquiries and ACCC and Australian Farm institute studies have called for a restructure of the current SFOs based grass-fed cattle producer Peak industry Council and CCA itself has conceded that it no longer truly represents Australia’s grass-fed cattle producers.”

Change to the current red meat industry structures is now universally being called for by all sectors in the red meat industry. Dr Wright concluded by saying that “Whoever forms government after the Federal elections next Saturday should put a process in place and convene sectoral Working Parties comprising relevant industry participants in each sector of the red meat industry to come together to reach agreement for the sectoral reforms that each sector seeks together with a whole of red meat industry Working Party to develop a restructured ‘Minerals Council of Australia’ style RMAC to represent the red meat industry as a whole.”

  • Paul Wright is a Taroom cattle producer and veterinarian and chair of Cattle Producers Australia


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  1. Alice Jacqueline Greenup, 16/05/2019

    “A step in the right direction”

    The final ideal outcome will take a number of steps, kicks, passes and tackles. But we will get it over the line.

    “Scoring a try is exciting. It may be your own brilliant solo effort or many players involved , but overall it belongs to the whole team. You have a responsibility to your team-mates to make your best effort to score.”

    We are all on the same team.

    I acknowledge and appreciate all those giving up their time and energy to better our industry. Namaste.

    “Believe you can and you’re halfway there.”
    Theodore Roosevalt

  2. Norman Hunt, 15/05/2019

    I am finding it a bit difficult to follow William Wilsons claims that Paul Wright is standing in the way of change and throwing knives

    Paul Wright is the current Chair of an Implementation Committee set up under the auspices of the Federal Government in 2015 to establish a new Peak Industry Council to replace CCA as the grass fed cattle producer representative body, An Implementation Committee that former CCA President Howard Smith and former CCA director Peter Hall were in integral part of from February 2015 to January 2018 when they withdrew at the behest of the SFO’s .

    So Paul and the CPA are all about change and rather than throwing knives Paul congratulated CCA on its move to a directly elected board ,asked some as yet unanswered questions as to who would be entitled to vote on the proposed new CCA directly elected board and had the temerity to ask CCA why they were not supporting the Australia wide 15 Regional electorate voting system devised for CPA by CCA in 2015 which basically ensures that each electorate has a similar number of cattle.

    Paul then went on to speak in favour of a whole range of broadly supported common ground proposed changes to the red meat industry structures arising out of the current Red Meat MOU Review.

    Hardly throwing knives from the outside or resisting change .

  3. Jock Douglas, 14/05/2019

    So Paul Wright, who attempts to create positive change and has a sound record of having done so, becomes a problem and is now told he is preventing change. It would be more enlightening if Will Wilson as a CCA Councilor and AgForce cattle president could spell out, as Paul Wright has done, the preferred representative structure for grass-fed cattle producer levy payers in the red meat industry. This would be preferred to his describing Paul Wright’s actions as knife throwing. Playing the man rather than playing the ball is the refuge of those bereft of ideas. Perhaps reading the available CPA submission to the Red Meat MOU Review could provide some food for thought about positive change for those who hold representative positions in the grass-fed cattle sector of the red meat industry. I’d suggest Will Wilson could do some reading and find fault with the changes proposed in that CPA submission if he can, rather than attacking the message carrier Paul Wright.

  4. Paul Franks, 14/05/2019

    When Barnaby Joyce was new to politics, many said he would change things for the better. Now many years later people have become disillusioned with him. I predict no matter the outcome of this current situation with CCA, down the track producers will become disillusioned as what they think should happen is not happening, as while the leadership may change the career bureaucrats remain the same.

    And it is a problem not confined to the beef industry, ask any business owner in any industry and you will get a earful of the things their industry regulators and government do and think up.

    I know I am failing to see the relevance of MLA and CCA, especially when earlier this year selling cattle then finding out if I held off selling them for two weeks it would have meant another $5000 in my pocket to go towards buying more drought supplement which in three months had increased in price by $150 a tonne.

  5. Sue Grant, 14/05/2019

    At a New England saleyard last week Barnaby Joyce declared to the assembled drought stricken,impoverished farmers (like me ) that “socialism doesn’t work”.No kidding,but at least the penny has finally dropped.Dr Wright should get with the program and realise that the beef industry structure that he is trying to insert himself into is an omellete that can not be unscrambled.It has failed utterly, completely and is beyond salvation.Dr Wright is troubled by the notion that Tassy should have the same number of representatives as the sovereign (and highly indebted ) state of Queensland.Well we live in a Commonwealth and they also have the same number of senators.Perhaps they could also argue that their cattle are much, much better.We can play this game all day but the only answer is a smart deregulation.Barnaby’s,”mea culpa” might be the first green shoot.

  6. William Wilson, 14/05/2019

    If you always find ways to prevent change you become the problem Paul.
    Pay your way for representation and maybe we will get somewhere. Standing on the outside throwing knives is a very ordinary act.

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