Deputy Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce has been confirmed as Australia's new minister for agriculture in prime minister elect Tony Abbott’s cabinet announced yesterday.
Nationals leader Warren Truss will be deputy prime-minister and minister for infrastructure and regional development, Andrew Robb will take on the trade and investment portfolio charged with driving economic development, Greg Hunt has been named as the minister for environment and Ian Macfarlane is the new minister for Industry.
Mr Robb brings strong agricultural credentials to the trade and investment role, having served as the chief executive officer of Cattle Council of Australia followed by the National Farmers Federation during the 1980s before entering the political sphere.
Mr Abbott said Mr Robb’s responsibilities would include ensuring momentum resumes towards the conclusion of ‘advantageous trade agreements’, which he said had suffered a disappointinglack of progress under the previous Labor Government, and also to oversee foreign investment.
“Australia welcomes foreign investment,” Mr Abbott said. “It has to be the right foreign investment and in our national interest, but one thing we can't do is build walls against the rest of the world, if we do that the world may build walls against us.”
Other notable appointments for rural and regional Australia include the appointment of member for the Queensland seat of Leichardt Warren Entsch as chair of a new parliamentary committee for northern development, Liberal senator for Tasmania Richard Colbeck as parliamentary secretary for agriculture, and member for the SA seat of Mayo Jamie Briggs as assistant minister for infrastructure and regional development.
Mr Abbott said John Cobb who had served as his shadow minister for agriculture in opposition was a casualty of legislative restrictions on the numbers he could appoint. "He did not miss out because he did a poor job, he did a good job and performed strongly," Mr Abbott said.
He said he was very confident Barnaby Joyce would do a "really outstanding job".
"He will be ably assisted by Richard Colbeck," Mr Abbott said.
"He knows the country just like the back of his hand.
"While he has not been a farmer all his life, he certainly has strong farming experience and a strong farming background."
Nationals Senator for NSW Fiona Nash has been named as the assistant minister for Health.
Mr Abbott told a press conference in Canberra his new ministry was one of the most experienced incoming ministries in Australia’s history.
“Our task is to purposefully, methodically and calmly implement the commitments from the election campaign and to repsond intelligently to the challenges of the day.
“There is enormous stability in this team,” he said.
Mr Abbot said he would visit Indonesia as soon as possible, stating that Indonesia was in many respects Australia's most important relationship.
The new ministry will be sworn in on Wednesday.
To view the full ministry click here
HAVE YOUR SAY