Murrumbidgee Irrigation board faces no confidence motion at upcoming AGM

Shareholder Kel Williams is putting forward a motion of no confidence in the Murrumbidgee Irrigation (MI) board at the MI Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Monday. 

The 78-year-old cattle farmer previously raised a no confidence motion  in 2011, and said nothing has improved since.

“I felt so frustrated with MI’s arrogance, lack of transparency and lack of genuine consultation. In the six years since since then, the culture of MI has not fundamentally changed,” Mr Williams wrote in the supporting statement of his no confidence motion. 

“More than ever, communication is one way, and the company continues to be top heavy”. 

Mr Williams said the catalyst for his current motion is that big developers are draining run-off water on to smaller neighbouring properties, and MI is not doing anything to stop it. 

“MI are catering to the big developers, and ignoring smaller shareholders”. 

Mr Williams also said MI is doing nothing to combat the problem of blue-green algae in Lake Wyangan, and not disclosing information on their financial dealings. 

Directors made a statement in response to Mr Williams concerns, highlighting what MI is doing to improve communication and water management.

The statement said, “the company has deliberately adopted a policy of openness and transparency, including the sources and uses of its [funds]”.

Directors also said the company’s organisational structure has deliberately been kept flat. 

The MI directors also stated “the company has and will continue to ensure all appropriate development consents are in place for any activities it undertakes...”.

Mr Williams 2011 motion against the board failed to pass, but he said it attracted around a third of the vote. 

“The big shareholders have a lot of land holding, so they get more votes, so it’s difficult for smaller farmers on motions like this,” he said.

“But I want this to be a wake up call, so they start listening”. 

The MI directors said in their statement if the proposed motion is passed, it would not pose any legal obligation on directors.

“However, in the interests of transparency and open communication, the motion has been tabled for consideration by shareholders”.

“Directors have indicated that they believe they have a moral obligation to consider their position if the motion is passed”. 

The AGM is held in Leeton on Monday.