Each year Dairy Australia conducts a search for persons who are suitably skilled for nomination for election to the Board at its Annual General Meeting (AGM). The selection process is overseen by a Board Selection Committee (BSC), which recommends candidates for endorsement by the Board.
This process ensures that candidates are rigorously assessed against the skills needed for a Director position and that an open and transparent application process is followed.
Professional recruitment support is engaged to assist the BSC to identify qualified candidates for non-Milk Producer Director positions who have the appropriate skills, experience and outlook required for this position.
Board composition and committees
Dairy Australia’s Board comprises eight non-executive directors and the Managing Director. The Board provides oversight of the organisation and ensures the dairy levy is invested in programs that support the profitability and sustainability of dairy farmers. A Board Skills Matrix specifies the mix of skills required by Directors and is a requirement of Dairy Australia’s funding agreement with the Commonwealth Government. Dairy Australia’s Constitution requires that:
- the Board as a whole has an appropriate balance of skills and experience, having regard to the nature of the business and affairs of the company
- the Board has at least four directors with milk producer skills
- the Directors rotate with either two or three directors retiring each year, so that no director serves longer than three years without having to present themselves for re-election. Directors cannot serve for more than three consecutive terms (i.e. nine years in total).
The Board has three standing committees that assist it in discharging its responsibilities: an Audit and Risk Management Committee and a Human Resources Committee (both comprised of Dairy Australia Directors), and a Board Selection Committee (four of its five members are appointed by industry).
Directors are required to understand the responsibilities and obligations of company directors, possess general commercial and financial literacy and are expected to act with integrity, honesty and in a collaborative manner.
Board selection process
The Board is assisted in its search for suitable Director candidates by the BSC. This is a standing committee appointed for a 12-month period. It has five members comprising two representatives of each of Dairy Australia’s Group B Members (Australian Dairy Farmers and the Australian Dairy Products Federation), representing the Australian dairy industry, and the Chair of the BSC who is a Dairy Australia Director (not standing for re-election).
The BSC’s role is to identify and nominate candidates who will ensure that the Board collectively has an appropriate balance of skills and experience in relation to the nature of the business and affairs of Dairy Australia.
After assessing the applications received and interviewing candidates, the BSC recommends one candidate for each Director vacancy for endorsement by the Board. Endorsed candidates then stand for election at the AGM as Dairy Australia Board nominees.
The BSC is assisted by an executive search consultant (Rimfire Resources) to source applicants for the dairy supply chain and product promotion skills vacancy and for the agribusiness, innovation and adoption skills vacancy.
A Pre-Selection Committee (PSC) assists with selection of farmer milk producer candidates. The PSC comprises three members appointed by Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) who will provide a short list of milk producer candidates to the BSC for consideration.
Time commitment required of Dairy Australia Board Directors
The overall time commitment is approximately 20 - 25 days a year. The Board generally meets 8-10 times per year, usually at Dairy Australia’s offices in Melbourne. Some meetings may be held at regional locations or hosted online via web conference.
In addition, each Director is expected to sit on one of the Board Committees that assist the Board in discharging its responsibilities: an Audit and Risk Management Committee and a Human Resources Committee. The Committees usually meet four – five times per year.
Directors are also be expected to make regional visits and attend industry events.
Director Elections 2023
There were four vacancies for the Dairy Australia Board. Two of the four vacant positions were for directors with milk producer skills, one was for a director with agribusiness, innovation and adoption skills, and another was for a director with dairy supply chain and product promotion skills.
The newly appointed directors are Paul Bennett (agribusiness, innovation and adoption skills), Paul van Heerwaarden (dairy supply chain and product promotion skills), Kären Moroney (milk producer skills) and Paul Roderick (milk producer skills).
Paul Bennett is from Tasmania and is Chair of family owned and award-winning Ashgrove Cheese. He was previously the Chair of DairyTas, is a dairy and beef farmer, and is involved in many community and youth organisations.
Kären Moroney is a farmer from Eskdale in North-east Victoria and is a former Chair of Murray Dairy. She is also a director of AgBiz Assist, a rural financial counselling service and President of the Mitta Valley Landcare Group.
Paul Roderick was first appointed to the Dairy Australia Board in November 2020, and has operated his family dairy farm at Harrisville in South-east Queensland for the last 30 years. He was previously Chair of Subtropical Dairy and had a role in setting up the Young Dairy Network in Queensland.
Paul van Heerwaarden and his family farming background led him to a career path in agribusiness including six years as CEO of Bega Cheese Ltd. He has served on a number of company and joint venture boards including for several years as a member director of Dairy Innovation Australia Ltd.
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Australian Financial Review, 30 April 2021