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Selection Committee Report

Letter to the Minister regarding the CRDC Board Selection Committee. Prof. Jim Pratley AM Presiding Member Cotton Research and Development Corporation Board Selection Committee 31 July 2020 The Hon. David Littleproud MP Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management Parliament House CANBERRA ACT 2600 Dear Minister In accordance with the requirements of Section 141 of the Primary Industries Research and Development Act 1989 (PIRD Act), I write to inform you of the activities of the Cotton Research and Development Corporation (CRDC) Selection Committee during the year 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020. The terms of the CRDC Directors, with the exception of CRDC Chair Richard Haire, are due to complete on 30 September 2020. As such, upon my appointment as the Presiding Member of the Selection Committee from 30 March 2020, I commenced the selection process for the CRDC Director positions. The Committee’s nominations for six directors were provided to your office on 3 July 2020. Details of the operation of the selection committee and the process conducted by the committee are outlined in the following report. Yours sincerely Prof. Jim Pratley AM Presiding Member
Establishment of Selection Committee

The CRDC Selection Committee was established under the PIRD Act for the purpose of nominating to you persons for appointment as directors of the CRDC.

On 30 March 2020, you appointed me as the Presiding Member of the CRDC Selection Committee until 31 December 2022.

On 26 May 2020, following nominations made by me, in consultation with Cotton Australia as CRDC’s representative organisation, you appointed the following persons to the selection committee:

  • Mr William Back, NSW, nominee of Cotton Australia
  • Mr Nigel Burnett, QLD, nominee of Cotton Australia
  • Dr Nicola Cottee, NSW, nominee of Cotton Australia
  • Mrs Susan McCutcheon, NSW, nominee of Cotton Australia

Selection process

At the commencement of this process, I consulted with CRDC Chair, Mr Richard Haire, and Executive Director, Dr Ian Taylor, on the strategic direction of the organisation, current and emerging industry issues, particular challenges facing the industry and CRDC’s role in contributing to solutions or participation in resolving these issues. I also consulted with officers at the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment. The committee discussed in detail the skills and experience that were likely to be required to deal with the organisational and industry challenges likely to emerge over the next three years.

The board positions were advertised in the national press as well as through a wide range of electronic media, industry and professional organisation, including the networks of Cotton Australia and CRDC.

The advertisements called for written applications against the criteria specified in the PIRD Act, which included:

  • Data governance and application;
  • Digital literacy – ability to learn, adapt and apply digital innovation;
  • Science, technology and technology transfer;
  • Social science and change management;
  • Innovation and commercialisation;
  • Cotton production and processing;
  • Environmental stewardship;
  • Economics or finance;
  • Public administration and corporate governance; and
  • International marketing and trade.

The committee sought candidates who also had a sound understanding of the role and responsibilities of directors, as well as good communications skills and the capacity to represent the CRDC to its stakeholders.

In addition, it was considered important that applicants understood the research and development environment in Australia, industry structures and, importantly, the role of the Australian government as a stakeholder in the CRDC.

In total, 201 applications were received and considered by all members of the selection committee. A meeting was held on 29 May 2020 to agree on a list of suitable candidates for interview. In developing the list of candidates for interview, the selection committee took into account the core selection criteria contained in the PIRD Act, as well as the other criteria agreed to be important, including a level of industry experience and strategic skills that would be useful in supporting and supplementing CRDC’s management in dealing with the range of issues outlined above.

The selection committee unanimously agreed to interview 18 candidates, of whom seven were women. Interviews were conducted on 26 and 29 June 2020 by video-conference due to the constraints imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Reference checks were carried out after the interviews in respect of the candidates selected by the Committee for nomination.

Board nominations

Upon completion of the selection process, in accordance with section 130 of the PIRD Act, the CRDC Selection Committee provided for your consideration six nominations for appointment, as requested, and a list of six other candidates considered suitable for appointment.


The following expenses (excluding GST) were incurred in the selection process:



Selection committee members travel and related expenses


Applicants travel expenses and other interview costs


Presiding Member fees


Secretarial, office expenses and administrative support


Advertising (incl. GST)




Prof. Jim Pratley AM
Presiding Member