The Wool Levy
Woolgrowers in Australia must pay a levy on the sale price they receive for shorn greasy wool. This levy provides funding for the wool industry services body, Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) Ltd and is invested in research and development, marketing, and innovation activities for the direct benefit of Australian woolgrowers.
The current levy rate is two per cent and is collected by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Levies Revenue Service, which is responsible for administering, collecting and disbursing levies on behalf of industries.
The Wool Levy Poll
In accordance with the Wool Services Privatisation Act 2000, AWI must conduct a poll of all eligible wool levy payers every three years to determine the rate of the levy to apply for the following three year period. AWI must then make a recommendation to the Minister in accordance with the outcome of the poll.
The Wool Services Privatisation (Wool Levy Poll) Regulations 2003 (the Regulations) govern the conduct of the poll. In accordance with the Regulations, AWI must propose three to five different rates of wool levy at the poll, including a zero rate.
Individual woolgrowers, corporations, partnerships or trustees may be eligible to vote in a poll if they have paid (other than as an intermediary) a wool levy totalling at least $100 during the three financial years prior to the poll. An eligible entity is entitled to one additional vote for each whole $100 of wool levy that has been paid.
Under the Regulations, AWI is to be assisted in the wool poll process by a panel which must include representatives of those growers that will be eligible to vote in the poll. AWI must consult the panel in preparing the ballot-paper, voting instructions and information memorandum. The panel must examine the draft forms and process for conducting the ballot to ensure these are in accordance with the Regulations before they are submitted to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry for approval.
History of the Wool Levy Poll
The first Wool Levy Poll was held in 2000 and growers representing over 50 per cent of the national clip voted. The majority vote at this wool poll was for a levy rate of 2 per cent. Woolgrowers voted in favour of the 2 per cent levy again in the 2003, 2006 and 2009 wool polls and, as such, this rate is still in place.
The next Wool Levy Poll will be held in 2012. Information on the 2012 poll will be available through the Australian Wool Innovation website.