Murray Watt welcomed as Agriculture Minister

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Queenslander Murray Watt has been appointed Australia’s new Agriculture Minister

Industry groups have welcomed the appointment of Queensland senator Murray Watt as Australia’s new minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.

Watt, 49, comes to the role after serving as Labor’s Shadow Minister for Northern Australia, Shadow Minister for Disaster and Emergency Management and Shadow Minister for Queensland Resources.

Before that, he spent time as a member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly, a public servant, judge’s associate and political advisor.

Murray Watt is Australia's new Agriculture Minister

Vegetable and potato growers industry body AusVeg chief executive Michael Coote welcomed the appointment, saying he looked forward to working with him and the new government to support the industry as it faces new challenges and potential opportunities.

"It has been a tough few years for many Australian growers, as issues such as labour shortages, input cost increases, floods and other weather events impact farms, property and regional towns and services," Coote says.

In particular, Coote says, he will advocate for an expansion of the pool of workers to which the Australian Agriculture Visa will apply.

"The Australian agriculture industry is fortunate to have many strong and passionate advocates that are committed to supporting the industry and the many thousands of workers that contribute to regional businesses and their communities," he adds.

"I look forward to working with Minister Watt, and the Albanese government to help realise the potential for our industry to thrive into the future, particularly on ensuring our industry has access to a reliable, efficient and accessible workforce, and a robust biosecurity system."

National Farmers’ Federation president Fiona Simson also welcomed the appointment.

"Now more than ever agriculture needs strong leadership as our farmers tackle the challenges of climate change, workforce shortages, supply chain disruptions and biosecurity threats from overseas," she says.

Simson says that despite these challenges it was an exciting time for agriculture, and added that she was pleased there were four portfolios awarded that explicitly referenced regions.

"We will continue the already strong relationship with Minister Watt and other Albanese government ministers who are key to progressing these priorities so agriculture can reach its goal to be a $100 billion industry by 2030," she says.

"It is also very important to us to engage with the Opposition and crossbench on these issues vital to farmers and the bush."

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