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Board appointments: is it ethical to track and stack?

With many peak bodies holding AGM's and nominations being open for a number of Board positions, WAFarmers welcomes members’ thoughts on the ability of a Chairperson to access voting data from independent providers while the election process is ongoing.

WAFarmers Livestock Section Vice President Steve McGuire, who is also the WAFarmers Wool Producers Australia Director, questioned whether a Chairperson should be able to access this kind of information.

“It has become apparent that Chairpersons are able to track how voting is progressing before election ballots close,” Mr McGuire said.

“While this may not be illegal, WAFarmers asks whether this action should be considered ethical, particularly when the organisations in question are funded by levy-payers.

“We hold concerns for this behaviour as it could be a way for a Board to gain an unfair advantage over voters and actively alter the outcome of an election by stacking votes for or against a nominee.

“Should all members be able to seek how voting is progressing before voting closes, this would not be an issue as all stakeholders involved would be on an even playing field, but it is only when one person in a position of influence has access to this information that this could be considered unethical.”

Mr McGuire said these behaviours could be detrimental to an industry’s confidence in their leaders and peak bodies.

“If members of an organisation and Board nominees were to discover that the outcome of an election was directly altered under influence from a Chairperson, it would have the potential to shatter industry’s confidence in fair voting processes and the organisation itself,” he said.

“From an agricultural perspective, we are an industry that needs to stick together to get the greatest benefits for growers, and it would be a real concern our people were to feel resentment towards the organisations in which they are putting their money and trust.

“We would be very interested to hear from our members and the wider WA agricultural community about this and, if it is something of concern, look at working together to develop a new process.”

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