October 11, 2022
Legal challenge to be launched against Australian cattle council
A Queensland, Australia law firm announced it has been instructed to prepare a legal challenge against the process taken by the Cattle Council of Australia to form Cattle Australia as the new peak industry council for grassfed Australian cattle producers.
Creevey Horrell Lawyers said it has been instructed by Cattle Producers Australia representatives to challenge the process, arguing that certain aspects were "flawed" and "undemocratic", and amounted to Cattle Council of Australia "rebranding itself as "Cattle Australia" and purporting to be the new representative body for Australian grass-fed cattle producers".
It added that it will be instituting legal action aiming to "halt the incorrect process and to call out the flawed structure" and is seeking a hearing through the Supreme Court of Queensland.
Cattle Council of Australia — in a written response to Beef Central — said the constitution of Cattle Australia was passed by a 75% majority vote of State Farming Organisations, who represent thousands of grassfed cattle producers, along with the Northern Pastoral Group, and producers were consulted very widely to join the voting process. It said it has not yet received any correspondence from Creevey Horrell Lawyers and was disappointed "to have received this legal threat through the press."
Cattle Council of Australia has been the peak industry council for the past 43 years, but has been involved in a year-long process with other groups, including Cattle Producers Australia which has initiated the stated legal action, to form a more representative and democratic national body for producers.
Cattle Council of Australia's foundation members, the eight State Farm Organisations and individual direct members who registered to vote, voted in favour of supporting the constitution of Cattle Australia.
A central plank of the new constitution is the removal of the right of State Farm Organisations to appoint their own representatives to the board of the peak industry council and creating a board that is directly elected by the council's producer members instead.
Cattle Council of Australia said the result enabled the process of direct elections for Cattle Australia to get underway, ahead of CCA being formally wound up at its annual general meeting later this year and Cattle Australia to hold its inaugural meeting.
However, not all producer groups involved have been accepting of the process Cattle Council of Australia has used.
Toowoomba-based law firm Creevey Horrell issued a statement to media, stating it has been instructed by Cattle Producers Australia representatives Paul Wright and Cameron McIntyre to prepare a legal challenge to aspects of the Cattle Council of Australia's process.
The Creevey Horrell Lawyers stated that Wright and McIntyre are members of the Australian federal government-funded Grass-fed Cattle Industry Restructure Steering Committee (RSC), which was charged with the reform process to establish a new democratic Peak Industry Council to represent all grass-fed cattle levy payers.
The statement alleged that "CCA illegitimately took over the reform process in its own interest and produced a flawed and undemocratic structure with no secure funding plan for Cattle Australia."
"Unlike the constitution adopted by CCA, the grass-fed cattle producer Peak Industry Council structure proposed by the RSC would have given fair representation for all levy payers, whether big or small," Wright said.
"We will be instituting legal action aiming to halt the incorrect process and to call out the flawed structure that CCA appears to have devised in its own interests rather than in the interests of all Australia's grass-fed cattle producer transaction levy payers."
The Creevey Horrell statement added that a proposed constitution for Cattle Australia was passed this month, although NSW Farmers and Pastoralists and Graziers Association of Western Australia voted against the resolution.
McIntyre said: "At that CCA Special General Meeting held to adopt the new Constitution, there were around 45 CCA members online, 71 proxies and the CCA President – a total of 117 people. Can you believe that? A total of 117 CCA members voted in favour of adopting a CCA devised Constitution for all of us, all the 45,000 plus grass-fed cattle producers of Australia. This is not only bad; it is sad."
Creevey Horrell principal Dan Creevey said: "Our clients, the CPA, believe the resolution of the CCA to adopt a new constitution and rebrand itself as Cattle Australia was in breach of the RSC‘s Terms of Reference and the associated funding Auspices Agreement between the RSC and CCA. The new rebadged CCA constitution has not yet been agreed upon by the RSC, which was established to do just that. The draft constitution that has been adopted by CCA fails to encapsulate the requirements of the democratically elected Cattle Australia structure demanded by our clients and other cattle producers.
"The expenditure of RSC resources, of government and industry origin, carried out by CCA on behalf of RSC under the Auspice Agreement and the Department of Agriculture's Procurement Agreement, has also not been adequately supervised by RSC and despite requests, documentation supporting its expenditure has not been provided."
Creevey said he had instructions to have the matter listed for a hearing in the Supreme Court of Queensland urgently.
- Beef Central