Federal agriculture minister Barnaby Joyce has announced the make-up of a new 10 person council that he will draw upon for advice on issues, challenges and opportunities facing Australia’s agricultural sector.
The minister said his decision to establish a new Agricultural Industry Advisory Group was in keeping with the Coalition’s 2013 election commitment to "listen to industry, to follow through and work in partnership with our agricultural industries".
Mr Joyce said the council – the members of which are identified below – will help the government in its endeavours to reduce red tape and to drive regulatory reform. The council would advise him “on issues and challenges facing agriculture including returns to the farm gate, attracting investment in Australian agribusiness, ways to increase agriculture’s efficiency, export opportunities and infrastructure priorities for agriculture”, he said.
“Council members have expertise across a wide range of agriculture, fisheries and forestry industries and so are well-placed to inform government about key issues impacting these sectors and provide advice on possible policies and regulatory reform.
“The agricultural sector provides jobs for 370,000 Australians and our leaders are world-class with unique experiences and innovative ideas. I want to hear from them so we keep moving forward.
“I look forward to working with the council and congratulate members on their appointment.”
The council members are:
- Luke Bowen, Executive Director, Northern Territory Cattleman’s Association, NT
- Eliza Brown, CEO/Director, Peter R. Brown Family Vineyards, VIC
- Rob de Fegely, Chairman, Cloudy Bay Sustainable Forestry, NSW
- Lenore Johnstone, grazier, Ilfracombe, QLD
- Hamish McLaren, woolgrower, Nerstane Merino Stud, NSW
- David Moon, vegetables/horticulture and Managing Director, Moonrocks, QLD
- Stuart Richey, Managing Director, Richey Fishing, TAS
- Kevin Sorgiovanni, horticulture, wine and dairy and Director, Harvey Fresh, WA
- Dean Wormald, graingrower and Director, Mallee Sustainable Farming, SA
- Susan Bower, Head of Agribusiness, Australian Financial Services, Westpac.
Mr Joyce said the Agricultural Industry Advisory Council has been established as part of two Coalition election commitments – “to enhance consultations with the agricultural sector and to support the government’s deregulation agenda by reducing red tape”.
The council met by teleconference on Wednesday and is expected to hold its first face-to-face meeting soon.
Does the new council tread on NFF’s toes?
The National Farmers Federation says it has no problem with Barnaby Joyce’s decision to establish a new advisory council to provide guidance on agricultural issues.
A key role of the NFF as the peak farmer representative body in Australia is to speak with a unified voice on behalf of Australian agriculture and to provide advice on rural issues to Government, raising the question of whether this new council in some ways treads on the NFF’s toes by playing a similar role.
However NFF president Brent Finlay told Beef Central this morning the establishment of the council was not a threatening process to any agricultural organisation in Australia.
Mr Finlay said Minister Joyce toild the NFF in his first meeting as Minister for Agriculture of his intention to put together a group that he could draw upon to take additional advice on issues that was independent of the traditional farm organisations and the Government advisors.
He said the NFF had a very close working relationship with the minister that was based on robust discussions around policy, and, as the largest representative body in agriculture, he said the NFF enjoyed very strong levels of access to the Government in Canberra.
“It certainly doesn’t affect the very close working relationship between the NFF and the minister,” Mr Finlay said.
“Our relationship is not about sitting down and have a cup of tea or beer with the minister, it is about fair dinkum agricultural advocacy lobbying, (about) what our policies are, where we sit down and we have a robust discussion with the minister.
“And for us to be doing our job, that is how we want it to be.”
HAVE YOUR SAY