The Minister for Agriculture, Bridget McKenzie, has requested an independent review into the performance of the board of Wine Australia.
The review was a condition of the extension of Wine Australia’s current funding agreement, now due to expire in June 2020. The review will report to Wine Australia and the Minister by 1 May 2020.
“An independent review of the Board was the first recommendation from Wine Australia’s independent performance review under their statutory funding agreement with the Commonwealth in September 2018,” Minister McKenzie said.
“The Wine Australia Board had planned to complete the review in October 2020. However, it is prudent for us to seek assurances of the Board and subcommittee performance prior to entering into a new funding agreement or making any permanent appointments to the Board.
“Australia’s wine industry employs more than 69,000 people and is worth $2.89 billion a year to the economy,” Minister McKenzie said.
“Industry members expect that their $19.7 million in levy funds are being spent in a transparent manner. Australian taxpayers, through the matching of levy funds, contributed $14.1 million to Wine Australia and it’s appropriate for us to seek assurances the organisation is operating with good governance practices.
“The review will be underpinned by the themes of integrity, culture, accountability, impartiality and communication and will also focus on the organisation’s performance as an Accountable Authority under the PGPA Act 2013.
“There’s been a relatively high rate of turnover of Wine Australia Board members in the past few years and the community, levy payers and our trading partners deserve assurance that good corporate governance continues.”
Terms of Reference for the review are below.
Means and timing of review
The review is to be conducted by an independent, third-party organisation with demonstrated experience in corporate governance practices, engaged by Wine Australia at its own expense and with agreement of the Commonwealth. The third-party organisation should not have conducted reviews of Wine Australia’s performance previously.
The review is to be completed by 1 May 2020.
The reviewer must engage with the Department of Agriculture (on behalf of the Commonwealth) at least twice during the review. Once, at the outset of the review, and again before the review report is finalised. Any drafts or final versions of the review must be provided simultaneously to Wine Australia and the Department.
The reviewers must engage each current Director and previous Directors within the last 12 months individually to inform their assessment of the Board’s performance.
The focus of the board performance review should be underpinned by the following themes of corporate responsibility and good governance: integrity, culture, accountability, impartiality and communication.
The review must consider the performance of the Wine Australia Board of Directors with regard to the following specific aspects:
• How the Board functions as a whole – how does it deliver on its governance role and functions, expectations as set out in the Wine Australia Act 2013 and Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013.
• Committees, including the Marketing Committee, Remuneration Committee, and the Research, Development and Extension Committee function to support the Board in its role and against their expectations.
• Directors – how well do Directors perceive themselves and the other Directors to be contributing positively to the work of the Board, and how their contributions could be improved?
• Industry views – how does the grape and wine industry view the Board’s leadership and performance?