Peak body welcomes new agriculture minister

By: Carene Chong

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The National Farmers Federation (NFF) today welcomes the appointment of Joel Fitzgibbon as the new Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry; saying it is especially pleased with his regional background and political experience.

Peak body welcomes new agriculture minister
Former Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon has been appointed the new Agriculture minister

NFF CEO Matt Linnegar says Minister Fitzgibbon’s electorate of Hunter is not only known for its horse studs and mining developments but also for its agriculture which includes dairy, horticulture, cereal crops, wool, beef, lambs and pigs.

"I believe farmers across the country will be pleased to see that their new Agriculture Minister has this rural reach, as well as some 17 years experience as an MP," he says.

Linnegar adds the organisation will be requesting a meeting with Minister Fitzgibbon as soon as possible to discuss some immediate priorities facing Australia’s farming sector.

"These include the implementation of the Farm Finance package, which is still awaiting state and territory approval – and, in conjunction with the new Trade Minister the Hon. Richard Marles MP, the finalisation of the China, Japan and Korea free trade agreements," he says.

"As Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said in his press conference on Friday, the China FTA is currently moving at the pace of a ‘lame camel’."

Linnegar says NFF looks forward to working with Minister Fitzgibbon and all Federal Parliamentarians on the body’s election priority of reprioritising agriculture in the national agenda.

"The need to do so is as relevant in the Minister’s own portfolio as it is on the national stage, with the importance of agriculture being overshadowed in recent years by the resources boom," he says.

"But now, the dining boom is firmly on the horizon, and the need to ensure agriculture is prepared means sensible policy decisions are needed to increase investment in innovation, research development and extension; enhance our farmers’ competitiveness and profitability; build a stronger agricultural workforce; and ensure that there is a balance between the needs of agriculture and the needs of the environment."

NFF also expressed its gratitude to the former Agriculture Minister, Joe Ludwig.

"We had a strong working relationship with Senator Ludwig and his team, and it is important to recognise that he worked very hard to make improvements for farmers, particularly in the areas of research and development funding, the National Food Plan and farm finance," Linnegar says.

Fitzgibbon’s appointment comes following Senator Ludwig’s resignation as a result of former Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s ballot loss last Wednesday.

Current Prime Minister Kevin Rudd today announced a brand new Cabinet which sees a huge shakeup of roles within the government.

Among the new appointments made today and last week include Anthony Albanese as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Broadband and Communications; Bill Shorten as Minister for School Education; Kim Carr as Minister for Higher Education, Innovation, Industry, Science and Research; Mark Butler as Minister for Climate Change and Environment; Jacinta Collins as Minister for Health and Ageing and Brendan O’Connor as Minister for Employment, Skills and Training.

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