Director loses Alliance board spot Miller voted off; Morrison appointed

Murray Taggart
Murray Taggart
Alliance Group director Jason Miller has been dumped by shareholders, and Waikaka Valley farmer Don Morrison has been appointed to the group's board.

Ironically, Mr Miller, a founding member of the Meat Industry Action Group, was elected to the board in 2007, when farmers were venting frustrations over the state of the industry.

A 49% voter turn-out for the election of directors was significantly more than in recent years and reflected the interest in the issue, Alliance Group chairman Murray Taggart, who retained his seat on the board, said.

The turn-out was 25% last year, 42% in 2011 and 30% in 2010. Mr Taggart, a North Canterbury farmer, received 23,540,916 votes, while Mr Morrison received 20,555,396 and Mr Miller, who farms at Southdown, in Southland, received 20,034,201.

Mr Morrison resigned from the executive of Meat Industry Excellence - a group formed earlier this year seeking reform in New Zealand's meat industry - to chase a position on the board.

In announcing his candidacy, Mr Morrison told the Otago Daily Times he was offering a positive vision that was needed to turn the red meat industry around.

The first part of that was driving supply back to Alliance Group and also to the co-operative model in general, and then giving shareholders a clear pathway where a merged Alliance Group and Silver Fern Farms was the first step to reformation, he said.

The results of the postal ballot were announced at the company's annual meeting in Dannevirke yesterday.

When contacted, Mr Miller said he was disappointed by the result, although it did not come as a total surprise.

He did not take it necessarily personally, or as being against the company, but believed it was symptomatic of dissatisfaction relative to other industries, Mr Miller said. That had got a groundswell going and it had been difficult to ''push back against''.

Speaking to farmers at the annual meeting, he found they were very supportive of Alliance Group, he said. They wanted a different structure and believed something different could be achieved, he said.

Fundamentally, he disagreed with what was proposed but he could see it from both sides, he said.

He was committed to the company and believed the opportunities in front of it were exciting, he said. He was disappointed he was not going to be involved in that, but he would maintain an interest from the sidelines, he said.

A non-binding shareholder resolution seeking the appointment of Fonterra director John Monaghan to the board as an independent director was passed, with 8,962,268 in favour and 7,957,895 against, about 23.5% of eligible votes being exercised.

Alliance Group's board has previously said Mr Monaghan did not have the skill set and experience being sought.

Yesterday, Mr Taggart said the board was in the process of appointing an independent director, to replace Owen Poole, and it was working with independent executive search consultants to identify suitable candidates.

While the board had been focused on finding a candidate with the right skills and expertise, it would take into account the views expressed by those who voted for the resolution. The appointment was expected to be made early next year.

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