NEWLY-ELECTED Nationals deputy leader David Littleproud has returned to the federal agriculture portfolio, as prime minister Scott Morrison announced a reshuffled ministry this morning following the departure of two senior frontbenchers this week.
Mr Littleproud gives up his water ministry to return to the ag portfolio, while also retaining his drought and emergency management responsibilities. He previously spent eighteen months as agriculture minister from 2017, succeeding Barnaby Joyce.
On Tuesday, former agriculture minister Bridget McKenzie stood down over her handling of a $100 million pre-election sports grants scandal, followed by senator Matt Canavan’s resignation from the resources and northern Australia ministries to back Barnaby Joyce’s unsuccessful bid to topple Nationals leader Michael McCormack.
Queensland backbencher Keith Pitt will move into cabinet with the resources, northern Australia and water portfolios. Victorian Darren Chester will return to cabinet in the veterans affairs portfolio. This will be Mr Chester’s second stint in cabinet, having been dumped by Barnaby Joyce when he was still deputy prime minister.
Cattle Council of Australia congratulated Mr Littleproud and thanked senator Bridget McKenzie for her work during her service as minister in the portfolio.
Cattle Council CEO Travis Tobin said Minister Littleproud’s former tenure as minister from 2017 to 2019 meant there would be a smooth transition and the continuation of key industry work with the government.
“Minister Littleproud has shown previously as agriculture minister and more recently as the minister for water resources, drought, rural finance, natural disaster and emergency management, that he is a passionate advocate for cattle producers,” Mr Tobin said.
“Trade reform continues to be a fundamental priority for producers and we’re encouraged by the ongoing cooperation between industry and the Government in this regard, including our work together to achieve improved market access to the European Union and the United Kingdom,” he said.
“Unlocking these new trade opportunities is critical given the red meat sector is Australia’s largest trade-exposed manufacturing industry, supporting more than 430,000 employees.”
Mr Tobin thanked Senator McKenzie for her commitment to strong producer representation.
“Senator McKenzie and Cattle Council enjoyed a strong and effective relationship in terms of red meat industry reform, biosecurity, trade and farm-gate productivity,” Mr Tobin said.
“Producers especially welcomed her leadership on biosecurity and last year’s allocation of $66 million to further safeguard our national borders.”
Mr Tobin said that as the peak council representing Australia’s 45,000 beef cattle businesses, CCA would continue to work with relevant federal ministers for the benefit of the nation’s beef cattle producers who, as an industry, generate an annual production value of $11.4 billion.
“CCA looks forward to continuing to work with the federal government to create opportunities for producers, supply chain businesses and the communities they support. This is especially important at the current time, with the national herd expected to fall below 25 million head this year – the lowest number since 1992.”
Mr Tobin welcomed the appointment of Andrew Metcalfe as the CEO of the Department of Agriculture, Water & Environment, who was previously Secretary of the Department of Agriculture in 2013.
“Important aspects of our engagement with the Federal Government occurs at a departmental level and we look forward to renewing our relationship with Mr Metcalfe. We thank outgoing secretary Daryl Quinlivan for his service and look forward to our effective work with the Department continuing under Mr Metcalfe,” he said.
“Our policy and reform work with Federal Ministers and Departments is ensuring industry continue to strengthen animal health, welfare, biosecurity and traceability systems, while improving trade access and delivering modern programs which equip producers with the world’s best on-farm management practices.”