AgForce has congratulated Queensland’s newly appointed Agriculture Minister and urged him to be a strong advocate for agriculture both in the community and in the Cabinet room.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced on Friday afternoon that Member for Rockhampton Bill Byrne will return to the Agriculture portfolio, becoming Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Economic Development.
He replaces Leanne Donaldson who resigned last week following revelations she had not paid almost $8000 in rates for three years.
“Bill Byrne has done a fantastic job as Agriculture and Fisheries Minister before and I know he’ll do so again,” Ms Palaszczuk said.
“Representing the people of Rockhampton – Australia’s Beef Capital – Bill has long been a champion for the bush and I know he’s excited about taking on the portfolio again.”
“I have tasked Bill to also focus on Rural Economic Development, particularly with my Government’s plans for the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority, strengthening debt mediation provisions for our farmers and our commitment to agricultural research and development and biosecurity.”
“Bill has been an outstanding Police Minister, but I want a regional voice in Cabinet representing our primary industries.”
“Anyone who knows Bill knows he’s a passionate advocate for our farming, grazing and fishing industries. He is a champion for regional Queenslanders.”
AgForce General President Grant Maudsley said he hoped Mr Byrne’s appointment would now bring some stability to what was one of the most important positions in the Cabinet.
“A strong agricultural sector underpins a strong Queensland economy, with a State Government report out this week putting the value of our primary industries at more than $18.5 billion in 2016/17,” he said.
“Global demand for our high quality food and fibre is growing rapidly, and can continue to grow strongly – but only with the right policy settings from governments.
“AgForce established a good working relationship with Bill Byrne when he was previously Agriculture Minister, and we acknowledge both his and Leanne Donaldson’s efforts in helping to secure stamp duty exemptions for farmers passing down the family farm to the next generation.
“We urge Minister Byrne to champion the needs of people in the bush both publicly and behind the closed doors of Cabinet to ensure agriculture continues to prosper into the future.”
Mr Maudsley said Minister Byrne would need to hit the ground running to bed down live issues in his new portfolio.
“Minister Byrne needs to work closely with his Department and industry to ensure primary producers on the tick line have the support they need to defend the integrity of the line,” he said.
“It’s vital the Minister provides clear messages about the need to maintain a high standard of biosecurity and to ensure its importance is recognised across the community.
“We would also urge the Minister to ensure funding for wild dog fencing gets out on the ground as quickly as possible, and that grants announced in the Budget to help farmers access financial advice are rolled out as a priority.
“With welcome rain in many parts of Queensland and good commodity prices in many sectors, there is a real momentum in agriculture that can be maintained if governments at all levels throw their support behind an industry that is the backbone of so many of our regional communities.”