Danny ‘ready for take-off’ if live stream auctions required

WESTCOAST Wool & Livestock Wool Auctioneer Danny Burkett felt like an airline pilot and looked like one too last week as he conducted an online live streaming wool auction trial from the comfort of his company desk.

Westcoast Wool & Livestock was called upon to host the trial by the Australian Wool Exchange (AWEX) as part of the industry’s contingency plans in case traditional open-cry auctions are halted due to the coronavirus.

Similar trials have been conducted in other States and earlier trials have included remote participation in wool auctions.

Western Wool Centre Technical Controller Andrew Rickwood said various trials were occurring due to the threat posed by coronavirus.

“It’s possibly not a matter of if, but when, that physical auctions will be shutdown,’’ Andrew said.

The trial used the Zoom online platform, attracted wool exporter registrations from both home and work offices, and Danny still enjoyed swinging the gavel – even if it did feel a little unusual.

“The trial looked at how we would trade in a virtual system with all the usual rules and regulations, reflecting what happens in a normal, open-cry auction. It simulated normal conditions, including with passed-in and reoffered wools,’’ Danny said.

“You could clearly hear the auction and the gavel, and while we transacted wool at a slightly slower rate, it was very effective for the transfer of wool.’’

Danny said the trial showed the industry could move to the live streaming system seamlessly if physical auctions were cancelled, however he said Westcoast Wool & Livestock remained committed to the traditional auction system.

Danny Burkett, Westcoast Wool & Livestock, fully equipped and ready for the online live streaming wool auction trial last week.

“We are ready to adopt live streaming auctions if the situation is forced, but we fully support the open-cry system.’’

“You lose the feel of the market with the live stream system – the heat of the battle and where the particular bidding focus is. However, as an auctioneer, I’m fully confident that we would achieve full market value if we are forced to go to this system.’’

The trial included 51 fleece wool lots and ran for 23 minutes.

Andrew said compared with an auction selling rate of about 240 lots an hour, the wool in the trial sold at a rate of about 200 lots an hour.

“It was a very successful trial and experienced auctioneer Danny Burkett did an excellent job.’’

“We had seven buyers in the auction room on the Wednesday and we had 10 buyers in the Zoom trial.’’

He said internet connection issues can present a problem and this needed to be addressed with one buyer who participated in the trial.