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Murray Horn tapped to steer wool sector toward new industry body

Monday 15th March 2010

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Murray Horn, former Treasury secretary and head of ANZ Banking Group’s New Zealand arm, has been tapped to help lure warring factions of the wool sector out of their trenches to create a new industry body.

Horn will act as an independent convenor and will call a meeting of wool sector organisations to begin the process of forming a single voice for the industry, said Agriculture Minister David Carter.

“I urge all the players to engage constructively in this process,” Carter said. “It is a vital step in ensuring the future of the strong wool sector.”

Horn’s appointment stems from the work of the Wool Taskforce, which Carter convened last year in the wake of the grower vote to dump Meat & Wool New Zealand’s wool levy. The group reconvened last month to consider the Wool taskforce report: Restoring Profitability to the Strong Wool Sector, which recommended a marketing strategy focusing on wool’s heritage and green credentials.

Still, Horn will have his work cut out corralling groups within the industry that have become embittered after years of failed solutions, new strategies and splinter groups and Carter has previously said the person tasked with the new role needs to be “a real head banger.”

The main divide in the industry is between growers and exporters, who already are represented on wool industry national bodies, such as the National Council of NZ Wool Interests, and fear the sector will be hijacked by grower interests at the expense of traders.

“The Government is serious about uniting the wool sector and moving it forward,” Carter said. “Securing a person of Dr Horn’s calibre gives me confidence that progress can be made quickly.”

National Council executive manager Nick Nicolson was among those who criticized the Wool Taskforce proposal when industry leaders met behind closed doors at Premier House last month.

Nicolson said grower organisations, with statutory powers to levy, have wielded too much power over the industry compared to exporters, who may carry $500 million to $600 million of risk by buying and holding wool.

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