AWI chief blasts disruption of wool auctions

AWI chief not happy over disruption to wool sales from cyber attack

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NOT A HAPPY VEGEMITE: Australian Wool Innovation CEO, Stuart McCullough, said growers had been warning for six years about the wool auction system's reliance on a single software platform.

NOT A HAPPY VEGEMITE: Australian Wool Innovation CEO, Stuart McCullough, said growers had been warning for six years about the wool auction system's reliance on a single software platform.

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Australian Wool Innovation is asking questions about how wool auctions have been halted by a cyber attack.

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Australian Wool Innovation has blasted the disruption to wool auctions caused by a ransomware attack on the wool selling system's main software supplier, Talman.

As at noon today some wool brokers still couldn't access the system which has left AWI CEO, Stuart McCullough, deeply unimpressed.

Wool auctions had to be abandoned last week after the cyber attack with some estimates suggesting Talman had been asked to pay $8 million to get its system unblocked.

Company staff worked over the weekend to work around the problem to get their systems up and running again in time for this week's sales.

AWI CEO, Stuart McCullough, said producers had been warning about the potential for such attacks since 2014.

"Growers have been worried about the auction system being offline this past week due to an offshore cyber-attack and we have had concerns stretching back to 2014 about the over reliance on the one platform," he said.

"The last thing any of us want is any further delay in the selling of wool to crucial export markets," he said. .

"We trust that security has been improved and the ongoing disruption to the auction system will be resolved quickly.

"The prolonged drought has already meant many growers have been under extreme cash flow pressure, they are suffering and deserve to be able to offer to sell their wool when they wish and not be put off due to the failure of an offshore based system.

"Growers deserve a robust selling system that is not vulnerable to attack," Mr McCullough said

Almost 70,000 bales have been scheduled for sale in Melbourne (36,000), Sydney (18,076) and Fremantle (15,855) in early estimates from AWEX.

NSW Farmers' wool committee chairman Andrew Wood said the cancellation of auctions had left some wool growers at risk of not meeting their short term loan repayments.

"We are concerned the shutdown in sales could delay a grower's ability to meet their repayments," Mr Wood said.

"Growers cash reserves are low, having endured years of drought and the associated high feed costs.

"Some growers have needed to access short-term interest free finance to cover shearing costs until their wool cheque comes through.

"They had budgeted to make the repayments on these short-term loans during the interest free period. However, the auction shut down means they will not be getting paid next week and may not be able to clear these loans in the interest free period.

"We have heard that some growers might be hit with interest rate charges as high as 18pc. Growers have no time to find alternative finance and they cannot endure these extra costs.

"NSW Farmers is calling on brokers and pastoral houses that provide these short term loans to show leniency to growers and to extend the interest free period."

The story AWI chief blasts disruption of wool auctions first appeared on Farm Online.

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