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Fruit body has to change

Horticulture Australia will hold an extraordinary meeting on Friday to discuss how to implement changes which will radically alter its structure.

June 17, 2014 3:06am

Horticulture Australia will hold an extraordinary meeting on Friday to discuss how to implement changes which will radically alter its structure.

A recent independent review was critical of the organisation’s governance model.

The review found Horticulture Australia Ltd and the horticulture levy system needed reform.

‘‘The current arrangements now impose unnecessary costs, lead to widely perceived conflicts of interest, and provide little compelling evidence of net benefits to levy-paying growers,’’ the report said.

‘‘A new structure is needed that provides greater accountability back to levy-paying growers from the body responsible for spending the levy funds.’’

The fundamental recommendation of the report is to move away from the present structure to a research and development corporation where members of HAL are industry representative bodies to a grower-owned model with a board elected by growers.

Fruit Growers Victoria general manager John Wilson said the transition to a new body could open ‘‘a can of worms’’ as they tried to deal with diverse interests and management of funds which had been developed by differing sectors.

‘‘Growing turf is not like growing mangos but they all fall under the same banner of horticulture,’’ Mr Wilson said.

‘‘So, it’s not like an organisation like Meat and Livestock.’’

But Mr Wilson said it was clear change was required as the agriculture minister had indicated he would not sign off on funding for HAL if there was no change by the time funding ran out in November.

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