By HARRY CLARKE
PEAK organisations representing the pillar regional industries of agriculture and resources have welcomed the new ministry announced by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
On the appointment of Senator Murray Watt as agriculture minister, National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) president Fiona Simson said the industry needed “strong leadership as our farmers tackle the challenges of climate change, workforce shortages, supply chain disruptions and biosecurity threats from overseas”.
The NFF also congratulated Tanya Plibersek on her appointment as environment and water minister.
“This portfolio is critical to the farm sector and we look forward to progressing vital issues such as EPBC Act reform and Murray Darling Basin management. We invite Minister Plibersek on a tour of the Basin at an early and convenient time,” Simson said.
She said trade and market access would be critical to agriculture, and expanding opportunities for farmers in international markets by working with the newly appointed trade and investment minister Don Farrell was a priority.
“The NFF and its members worked tirelessly to develop election priorities to benefit our farmers and all Australians. At the top of the list is working with Minister for Immigration Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship Andrew Giles to address the chronic labour shortages crippling the farming sector,” Simson said.
“All of this will help not just by providing food for our tables, fibre for our clothes and timber for our buildings, but also with job opportunities and addressing the rising costs of groceries.
“Each day Australians are feeling the pain at the supermarket checkout. There are several factors at play, but improving supply chain resilience, competition law reform and worker availability will go a long way to keeping essentials affordable.
“We welcome Hon Chris Bowen continuing his work as Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy in a ministerial capacity.
“Farmers and the wider community have made it clear they are concerned about climate change. Farmers need to fully understand the risks, opportunities and be able to seek independent advice on the best pathways forward.”
Meanwhile the Queensland Resources Council (QRC) welcomed the appointment of Madeleine King as resources and Northern Australia minister.
QRC chief executive Ian Macfarlane said Ms King’s background as a West Australian MP would be an asset, given her home state and Queensland are both “powerhouse resources states” for Australia.
“The minister knows first-hand how important a high-performing, highly competitive resources sector is to the Australian economy and will have a deep understanding of the employment and business opportunities that flow on from that for the wider community,” MacFarlane said.
“She will also understand how essential the ongoing strength of the resources sector is to Australia’s future, as we navigate the Covid recovery phase and the challenge of addressing emissions reductions.
“The QRC looks forward to welcoming the Minister to Queensland as soon as possible, and to working with her on key policy issues such as improving access to skilled workers, attracting new investment across Australia’s diverse commodity range and how the resources sector can support Australia’s energy security.”
The Australian Petroleum Production & Exploration Association (APPEA) said the oil and gas sector looked forward to working with the new government to deliver for Australia.
“The Prime Minister and his new ministers have made it clear that they recognise the important role our industry has to play in delivering the incoming government’s objectives, including energy security, decarbonisation and generating Australian jobs,” APPEA chair Ian Davies said.
As well as King and Plibersek, Mr Davies welcomed the appointment of Chris Bowen as climate change and energy minister.
“The seniority of these appointments and the experience among these new Ministers underscores the critical role our industry can play in securing our economic and environmental future,” he said.
APPEA acting chief executive Damian Dwyer said APPEA and the industry would be working with the ministry to ensure policy settings maximised opportunity.
“We will work constructively with the new government on the development and implementation of its policies, including emissions reduction mechanisms, taxation settings and environmental regulation,” Dwyer said.
Dwyer also thanked outgoing industry, energy and emissions reduction minister Angus Taylor and outgoing resources minister Keith Pitt for their positive working relationships with the industry.