New MIL nominees to face external scrutiny

November 08, 2017

The decision by remaining Murray Irrigation Limited directors to resign will clear the decks for a new governing body for the Riverina water company, but new nominees will be subject to scrutiny by outside consultants.

"Candidates will be subject to rigorous assessment by an independent, top-tier selection company and the new Board is likely to include four shareholder directors and three independents,'' chairman Bruce Simpson said.

The MIL directors have announced they will all resign at the next annual meeting following controversy over the performance of several directors.

The existing board had circulated a letter to shareholders questioning the performance of two directors and leading to a vote of no-confidence in them.

The issue was sparked after the board refused to endorse a director's nomination for re-election, after an internal and external review.

Southern Riverina Irrigators chairman, Graeme Pyle raised concern over the proposal to subject board candidates to assessment by an independent company.

Mr Pyle said some shareholders had already taken exception at being ‘‘told how to vote’’ in the recent director elections, saying this proposed new system would be ‘‘polarising’’.

‘‘Shareholders believe they are capable of selecting who is best to represent them,’’ Mr Pyle said.

‘‘I fear this vetting process will also stop people from having a go at being elected.

‘‘I think the criteria for this selection process must be widely known.’’

Mr Pyle said many irrigators are feeling a ‘‘sense of relief’’ following Murray Irrigation Ltd’s announcement that the company’s entire Board will stand down.

Mr Pyle said the majority of the irrigators he represents were ‘‘upset’’ with the recent actions of the Board.

He said this included a letter sent to the company’s shareholders from MIL deputy chair Ben Barlow saying the Board did not endorse sitting director James Sides as a candidate in the recent director elections and then a vote of no confidence in Mr Sides and fellow director Chris Brooks.

The SRI chair said while there were some reservations to the changes to be made as a result of the Board’s decision to stand down, he added that ‘‘a fresh start’’ would be welcomed.

‘‘There is a sense of relief that we are now on the path to excellence, and I feel it’s not far to go now to achieving that,’’ Mr Pyle said.

‘‘We are all looking forward to that being achieved, whatever the Board’s make-up.

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