AUSTRALIA’S new Minister for Agriculture Bridget McKenzie and the re-elected Coalition Government have been welcomed by a cross-section of sheep industry stakeholders this week.
Peak grower representative body for the Australian wool industry, RSPCA Australia and the Australian Meat Industry Council all offered support for the new appointments.
WoolProducers president, Ed Storey, said deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has been a strong advocate for people in the bush, “and we know that he will continue to place issues affecting regional Australians front and centre in the Morrison government.”
“WoolProducers also welcomes the retention of the trade portfolio by Simon Birmingham, Mark Coulton to Regional Services, Decentralisation and Local Government and Sussan Ley for her appointment to the Environment portfolio,” he said.
Mr Storey said Senator McKenzie has demonstrated a sound understanding of rural and regional issues through her previous ministerial roles. WoolProducers looked forward to her applying the same knowledge, passion and dedication to the agricultural portfolio, he said.
Mr Storey said previous Minister for Agriculture David Littleproud and wished him well in his new portfolio of Water Resources, Drought, Rural Finance, Natural Disaster and Emergency Management.
“Minister Littleproud achieved many things during his tenure in agriculture, including calling the independent review of performance into Australian Wool Innovation, which delivered 82 recommendations to improve the transparency and operations of the wool RDC.
“Minister Littleproud also introduced sweeping reforms into the sheep live export trade which was desperately needed to secure the trade,” Mr Storey said.
Leadership needed on animal welfare – RSPCA
RSPCA Australia welcomed Senator McKenzie’s appointment and said she assumes responsibility for the government’s animal welfare agenda – a critically important issue to a growing number of Australians.
RSPCA Australia Acting CEO Dr Bidda Jones said good animal welfare is inextricably linked to community trust and support for animal agriculture.
“Poor animal welfare in one sector impacts the reputation of Australian agriculture as a whole – we are sure Senator McKenzie understands this connection,” Dr Jones said.
RSPCA Australia said Senator McKenzie earlier this year, successfully navigated the passage of the government’s Industrial Chemicals Bill through the Senate and committed to ending the testing of cosmetics on animals and facilitating the uptake of new non-animal testing approaches.
““The Agriculture portfolio presents many opportunities for similar progress and we look forward to working closely with Senator McKenzie and her team to achieve positive outcomes for animals.”
Dr Jones said Mr Littleproud set in train a range of reviews in the live export trade, which saw the implementation of significant changes to the way the trade is conducted and regulated.
“We trust that the momentum generated by Minister Littleproud, and the commitment to acting on the scientific evidence in seeing these reforms, through will continue under Senator McKenzie’s leadership,” Dr Jones said
“While the RSPCA may have differing policies to the Government on the live export trade, we will always work constructively with the Government of the day toward our common goal of improving animal welfare.
“More than ever, Australia needs national leadership on animal welfare – a strategy that will chart a united course forward for business, industry, and the community, to ensure our standards of animal welfare are truly world-leading,” Dr Jones said.
AMIC welcomes proven agribusiness advocate
The Australian Meat Industry Council (chief executive officer Patrick Hutchinson says Ms McKenzie is a proven advocate for agribusiness and for Australia’s regional communities more broadly.
“We’re excited to see Senator McKenzie in this crucial portfolio and we’re looking forward to getting down to work.
“We are eager to brief the new minister on the great opportunities our sector could be taking on – and also to discuss our priority challenges, including cost to operate, labour shortages and energy,” Mr Hutchinson says.
Mr Hutchinson says AMIC, which launched the first Meat Business Women event in Australia this year, is pleased to see a woman take on the Agriculture Minister role for the first time,” he said.
“Our industry is working very hard to create opportunity for women, and it’s great to see Minister McKenzie leading the way as an excellent role model.
“We also welcome the return of Karen Andrews to the Industry, Science and Technology portfolio and Michaelia Cash to the Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business portfolio.”
Mr Hutchinson said he would invite ministers McKenzie, Andrews and Cash to join the next Meat Business Women event in October.
AMIC also welcomed the return of Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack to the portfolio of Infrastructure, Transport, and Regional Development and the re-appointment of Simon Birmingham to the Trade, Tourism and Investment portfolio.
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