11 Mar 2011

Last Wool Board funds should be paid out soon

7:30 am on 11 March 2011

The Wool Board disestablishment company DisCo hopes to distribute the remaining funds it's holding to wool growers in the next two or three months.

It's now able to go ahead with the distribution because the Supreme Court has rejected the application of a specialist fine-wool group seeking to challenge a second Court of Appeal judgment.

The Saxmere group, which represents farmers who produce super-fine merino wool, has been battling through the courts for seven years, challenging the former Wool Board's decisions on funding wool marketing programmes and seeking millions of dollars in compensation.

After rehearing the case last year the Court of Appeal for the second time rejected Saxmere's claim that the board acted unlawfully in the way it distributed funds.

Gratifying to 'have it all behind us'

Disco chief executive Roger Buchanan says the Supreme Court's decision not to consider the case further should finally bring it to an end.

"We don't believe there's any other avenues to pursue. The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land and they've made a determination that that's the end of the road on this particular issue.

"It's very gratifying to have it all behind us," Mr Buchanan adds, "and to be able to get on with the task which we were mandated to do, which is to distribute the last of the Wool Board's assets."

While not putting a precise timeframe on it, he thinks something can be done within the next two to three months.

Saxmere not giving up yet

The Saxmere group says, however, that it's going to go back to the Minister of Agriculture on the issue, which in its view remains unresolved.

Spokesperson Peter Radford says the issue is still alive because there's been an acknowledgment in the courts that the Wool Board acted unlawfully in not considering a marketing plan for Saxon wool.

Mr Buchanan says DisCo is still holding more than $7 million of reserve funds on behalf of about 13,000 sheep farmers. Paid out, that would average about $500 a grower.