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Governance and accountability

CRDC was established in 1990 as a partnership between the Australian people (through the Australian Government) and the Australian cotton industry (through Cotton Australia, its legislated representative industry body).


CRDC is based in one of Australia’s major cotton-growing areas, Narrabri, in north west NSW. Being centrally located within the Australian cotton industry, CRDC benefits from developing and maintaining important relationships with cotton growers, researchers, processors, and members of regional cotton communities.

PIRD Act legislation

CRDC began operations in 1990 under the PIRD Act.


CRDC’s charter under the PIRD Act is to invest in and manage a portfolio of research, development and extension projects and programs in order to secure economic, environmental and social benefits for the Australian cotton industry and the community. This is to be conducted in a framework of improved accountability for research and development spending in relation to the cotton industry.

PIRD objects

The objects of this PIRD Act are to:

(a) make provision for the funding and administration of research and development relating to primary industries with a view to:

(i) increasing the economic, environmental and social benefits to members of primary industries and to the community in general by improving the production, processing, storage, transport or marketing of the products of primary industries; and

(ii) achieving the sustainable use and sustainable management of natural resources; and

(iii) making more effective use of the resources and skills of the community in general and the scientific community in particular; and

(iv) supporting the development of scientific and technical capacity; and

(v) developing the adoptive capacity of primary producers; and

(vi) improving accountability for expenditure on research and development activities in relation to primary industries; and

(b) make provision for the funding and administration of marketing relating to products of primary industries.


Under section 12 of the PIRD Act, CRDC has the power to do all things necessary to carry out its functions, including but not restricted to:

  • Entering into agreements for the carrying out of R&D or marketing activities;
  • Applying for patents, either solely or jointly;
  • Charging for work done, services rendered, and goods and information supplied;
  • Acquiring, holding and disposing of real and personal property; and
  • Anything incidental to any of its powers.




Investigating and evaluating the cotton industry’s requirements for research and development, and the preparation, review and revision of an RD&E plan on that basis

This is achieved by continuing interaction with CRDC’s legislated industry body, Cotton Australia. Cotton Australia undertakes a range of functions relating to CRDC, including an annual review to ensure the CRDC Strategic Plan remains current and relevant. The cotton industry and cotton researchers are closely involved in the development of the CRDC Strategic RD&E Plan, which incorporates Australian Government and cotton industry RD&E priorities, as well as advice from the Minister and the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment.

Preparing an Annual Operational Plan for each financial year

An Annual Operational Plan is submitted to the Australian Government and Cotton Australia before the start of each financial year.

Coordinating and funding RD&E activities consistent with current planning documents

RD&E projects are approved or commissioned in line with the Annual Operational Plan each year. The Annual Operational Plan is devised to address the objectives and strategies outlined in the current Strategic RD&E Plan.

Monitoring, evaluating and reporting to Parliament, the Minister for Agriculture, and to industry on RD&E activities coordinated or funded by the Corporation

CRDC reports formally to the Australian Parliament through its Annual Report. In addition, CRDC informs the Minister for Agriculture of any matters of interest or concern in the current operating environment. This occurs in written and, where possible, face-to-face communication.

CRDC is also in communication with the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment on a range of issues. Communication with the industry and Cotton Australia occurs continually on both a formal and informal basis, as outlined above. Communication with the broader community is a key focus of CRDC’s communication activities.

In order to ensure stringent evaluation of its RD&E activities, CRDC is committed to the ongoing Council of Rural Research and Development Corporation’s Impact Evaluation process.

Facilitating the dissemination, adoption and commercialisation of research and development results in relation to the cotton industry

CRDC plays a pivotal role in facilitating fast and effective dissemination of cotton RD&E outcomes. CRDC undertakes detailed analysis and planning for determining the most appropriate adoption pathway for the results of research projects. While the majority of research results are extended as information, the CRDC actively works with its research partners to develop commercial adoption pathways where that is preferred.

CRDC is a founding partner in the industry’s joint extension program, Cottonlnfo, along with co-partners Cotton Australia and CSD Ltd. Formed in 2012, the Cottonlnfo team works to improve responsiveness to grower needs through improved communication and regional representation, focusing on delivering research directly to growers and consultants. The model recognises the importance of supporting adoption of RD&E through multiple delivery pathways and is underpinned by the industry’s best management practices program, myBMP.

In addition, CRDC hosts forums and on-farm events, participates in roadshows and the cotton trade show, produces publications, sponsors the biennial Australian Cotton Conference and Australian Cotton Research Conference, and has a communication strategy to extend and enhance the adoption of RD&E. CRDC also collaborates in the successful commercialisation of RD&E, where possible.

The PGPA Act

CRDC has been subject to the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 since 1 July 2013, which provides enhanced levels of accountability as well as a planning and reporting framework.

Other legislation

The setting and collection of levies on the cotton industry are enabled by the Primary Industries (Excise) Levies Act 1999 and the Primary Industries Levies and Charges Collection Act 1991.

Cotton R&D levy

The Australian Government introduced an R&D levy at the request of industry. The cotton levy funds CRDC research and development programs and the subscription for industry membership of Plant Health Australia. The levy is payable on cotton produced in Australia, and the producer (the person who owns the cotton immediately after harvest) is liable to pay the levy.

The levy rate for cotton is $2.25 per 227-kilogram bale of cotton. The Australian Government contributes matching funds up to set limits.

There is also a separate levy for seed cotton exports of $4.06 per tonne of exported seed cotton.


CRDC has been accountable to the Australian Parliament through two Ministers in 2019–20: Senator the Hon. Bridget McKenzie as Minister for Agriculture from 1 July 2019, and the Hon. David Littleproud MP as Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management from 6 February 2020.

Minister’s responsibilities

The Minister’s powers and responsibilities, as outlined under various sections of the PIRD Act, include appointing CRDC’s Chair and Directors and, under certain conditions, terminating these appointments; approving CRDC’s Strategic R&D Plan and any variations to it; appointing a person as Presiding Member of CRDC’s Selection Committee, as well as other members of that Committee; and transferring to CRDC any assets held by the Commonwealth that the Minister considers appropriate and that would assist its performance and function.

Ministerial directions

CRDC complies with all Ministerial directions, legislative and policy requirements of the Australian Government that it has been able to ascertain. CRDC received no Ministerial directions during 2019–20

CRDC role, responsibilities and accountabilities

  • CRDC is formally accountable to the Australian people through the Australian Parliament and to the cotton industry through its industry representative body, Cotton Australia.
  • CRDC’s stakeholders set broad objectives, which the Corporation addresses through its Strategic R&D Plan and Annual Operational Plan.
  • CRDC has used these objectives as a basis for the development of its planned outcomes and the identification of key outputs.
  • CRDC’s reporting processes include the presentation of a formal report to its industry stakeholder. Part of this presentation includes an opportunity for questioning and debating Board decisions.
  • CRDC reports on investments, project outcomes, operation activities and financial statements every year via its Annual Report.
  • CRDC publishes an Annual Operational Plan, Strategic R&D Plan, and Annual Report on the outcomes of investments, projects, operations and financials.

Policies, procedures and charters

CRDC has policies, procedures and charters to assist with the effective governance of the organisation. These documents are available from CRDC’s internal shared folders and are made available to all Directors and new staff during induction training. In addition, staff receive policy training on an annual rolling basis at monthly staff meetings.

Corporate reporting

In accordance with the PIRD Act and the PGPA Act, CRDC prepares a five-year Strategic RD&E Plan, as well as an Annual Operational Plan for each financial year.

CRDC submitted the Annual Operational Plan for 2019–20 to Senator the Hon. Bridget McKenzie as Minister for Agriculture on 25 June 2019, with the plan commencing 1 July 2019. The Annual Report for 2018–19 was submitted to the Minister on 11 October 2019, and the Minister tabled the report in Parliament on 27 November 2019.

Fraud control

Active fraud control is a major responsibility of all staff, and clear standards and procedures have been established. All personnel engaged in the prevention, detection and investigation of fraud receive appropriate fraud control training, consistent with the Australian Government’s Fraud Control Guidelines.

The Audit Committee endorse, monitor and review the fraud control plan, which is read in conjunction with the Risk Management Plan and the Board Charter for Directors and Statement of Principles for staff.

CRDC’s Audit Committee, Executive Director, and General Manager Business and Finance (the nominated fraud control officer) carry out the functions of a fraud investigation unit collectively, as described in the Commonwealth Fraud Investigation Model. The support of the Australian Federal Police would be sought if CRDC felt there was a prima facie case of fraud, and further investigation was required. No such action was necessary in 2019–20.

Service charter

CRDC does not provide services directly to the public, and thus does not have a service charter; however, CRDC has a Board Charter that includes a Governance Statement and a Statement of Principles that embody the set of values underlying our decisions, actions and relationships.

National Disability Strategy

CRDC’s working conditions and procedures for employees and stakeholders align with the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act 1992 in the broader context of the National Disability Strategy 2010–20. CRDC has ensured that any person with a disability could be properly accommodated and carry out all functions, as either a staff member or a visitor. Should a future staff member or visitor need more-specialised disability assistance, CRDC will assess and meet these needs.

Equal Employment Opportunity, Discrimination and Harassment Policy

CRDC’s Equal Employment Opportunity, Discrimination and Harassment Policy defines prohibited discrimination and harassment, and sets out a complaints procedure.

Significant events

CRDC had no significant events in 2019–20.

Significant changes in the state of affairs

CRDC had no significant changes in its state of affairs in 2019–20.

Judicial decisions

CRDC had no judicial decisions in 2019–20.

Reviews by outside bodies

Probity Management in Rural Research and Development Corporations

The Auditor-General undertook an independent performance audit across the statutory RDCs in 2019-20 noting:

“It is critical that the corporations uphold high probity standards given their often close interactions with a small number of researchers over time, and potential conflicts arising from the corporations’ directors being industry representatives themselves. Total expenditure for the corporations in 2017–18 was $359 million and the audit was designed to provide assurance that RDCs are appropriately managing public funds in terms of probity risks. RDCs were last involved in a performance audit in 1998. The findings can provide lessons for future funding agreements managed by the Department of Agriculture, and the corporations can adopt examples of better practice highlighted in the audit.”

The audit included AgriFutures Australia, FRDC, GRDC, Wine Australia and CRDC. The CRDC board reviewed and adopted all better practice audit recommendations.


CRDC has detailed policies and procedures for determining its involvement in the commercialisation of the results of R&D projects where that is the preferred adoption pathway. Project technology that underwent commercialisation activities in 2019–20 included approaches to improved irrigation management, managing stress time thresholds, improved forecasting of inversion risk to reduce spray drift, and development of novel plant extracts.

Work Health and Safety

CRDC has a strong culture of achieving best practice and continuous improvement in Work Health and Safety (WHS), as required by the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. This is achieved by providing the necessary resources (both human and financial) to ensure that WHS functions effectively.

In accordance with Schedule 2 Part 4 of the WHS Act, CRDC details notifiable incidents reported each year. In view of its WHS record, CRDC remains vigilant in maintaining its safety performance by conducting audits and reviews of policies and procedures.

Work Health and Safety summary

Initiatives during 2019–20 and outcomes

· COVID-19: Changes to work practices to minimise the risk of COVID-19 in the workplace. Approved work from home arrangements, ceased travel and restricted access to the CRDC office.

· Safety issues discussed at quarterly WHS staff meetings, workplace inspections held (including vehicles) and staff consulted in resolving safety issues and physical conditions of the workplace.

· A flu vaccination program for all CRDC staff was offered.

Statistics of any notifiable incidents as defined by s38 of the WHS Act

· CRDC had no notifiable incidents in 2019–20.

Details of any investigations conducted during the year, including details of all notices under Part 10 of the WHS Act

· CRDC conducted no investigations and no notices were received from, or given to, an employee in 2019–20.

Freedom of information

General enquiries regarding access to documents or other matters relating to freedom of information should be made in the first instance to the Executive Director.

Funding information on individual projects funded by CRDC is available on request unless that information has been classified as commercial-in-confidence. Information about CRDC projects is also available at the CRDC website.

During 2019–20, CRDC had no freedom of information requests. CRDC manages requests in accordance with the provisions of its freedom of information plan, in compliance with subsection 8(1) of the Freedom of Information Act 1982.

Categories of documents held







Annual Operating Plans

Files, Publications


Annual Reports

Files, Publications


Applications, Guidelines and Contracts

Files, Publications

C, D

Assets Register



Financial Management



Five-Year Plans

Files, Publications


Project Lists

Files, Publications

C, D

Research Reports

Files, Publications

C, D

Workshop Reports

Files, Publications

C, D

C: Documents customarily made available
D: Documents not customarily made available for reasons of privacy or commercial-in confidence.

Contractors and consultants

CRDC employs consultants and contractors as needed, and after background checks, to ensure proposed appointees have the necessary skills and experience. During 2019–20, CRDC spent $999,317, exclusive of GST, to remunerate consultants and contractors.

Privacy and confidentiality arrangements require that CRDC policy is not to disclose amounts paid to individual consultants. A list of contractors and consultants with remuneration of $10,000 or more, exclusive of GST, can be found in the following table.


Service provided

C&J Phelps Consulting

Program management services

Callida Consulting

Internal audit services

Computers Now Pty Ltd

ICT services

Rachel Holloway

Program management services

ICD Project Services

Program management services

Melanie Jenson

Publication content

Jobs Australia Enterprises Ltd

Contract staff

KEOwned Pty Ltd t/as KEO Design

Web consultant

Carolyn Martin

Publication content

Neil Deacon Graphic Design

Publication design

Peel HR Pty Ltd

Human resource management services

Revolution IT Pty Ltd

ICT services

Rimfire Resources Pty Ltd

Recruitment services

SapphireOne Pty Ltd

Software support

Loren Shaw

Software support

Stacey Vogel Consulting

Program management services

Universal McCann

Recruitment advertising

Payments to advertising agencies

CRDC did not engage the services of any advertising agency, market research organisation, polling organisation, direct mail organisation, or media promotion organisation during the reporting year.

Payment to representative body

Cotton Australia is CRDC’s industry representative body and cotton’s declared representative organisation under the PIRD Act. In 2019–20, CRDC contributed $104,767 to Cotton Australia for industry consultation, capacity building of advisory panel members and RD&E projects. These funds included $10,000 for their industry consultation role, including several specific activities:

  • Industry consultation and participation in CRDC forums to review RD&E funding applications and scoping of future directions in research.
  • Support for capacity building and training for the Cotton Australia research advisory panels.
  • A meeting to receive and discuss the CRDC Annual Report for the preceding year. This enables the industry representative body to ensure CRDC’s activities for that year have met its strategic objectives and to question senior staff on any matters of interest or concern.
  • Joint publications with CottonInfo.

While CRDC does not pay a fee for service to the industry representative body for these activities, it contributes to the expenses they incur in carrying them out, as authorised by section 15 of the PIRD Act, which relates to consultation with the industry stakeholder. In 2019–20, CRDC contributed a total of $94,767 to Cotton Australia for the following co-funded project activities:

  • $55,000 support for the 2020 Australian Cotton Conference to increase awareness in the Australian cotton industry of research outcomes.
  • $19,767 co-funding the National Residue Survey
  • $20,000 co-funding support for the cross-sector CottonMap project lead by Cotton Australia and supported by CRDC, GRDC and commercial organisations. The online mapping tool is used by cotton growers, grain growers and graziers to help prevent spray-drift damage to cotton crops.