Statement on appointment as Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources
It has been an honour to serve as Minister for Agriculture for the past two years, and I am very pleased to be continuing in this role with expanded responsibilities for water.
Agriculture and soft commodity exports will be vital in mitigating the downturn in other export prices such as coal and iron ore.
I also welcome the return of water policy to the agriculture portfolio. Having been Shadow Minister for Water and having had a long experience with river politics this is a job for which I understand the challenges. Water is the lifeblood of rural Australian communities and economies, and a critical input for agriculture. Our water resources must be managed sustainably and with a long-term vision. It is our goal to deliver the triple bottom line of economic, social and environmental benefits.
I am also pleased that the Prime Minister has appointed my former Senate colleague South Australian Senator Anne Ruston as Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources. I am certain that the positive working relationship that I have had with Senator Birmingham and Senator Colbeck will continue with the evident talent of Senator Ruston.
Water is an important issue for all South Australians and Senator Ruston brings with her a considerable knowledge of horticulture, wine and water issues in the Murray-Darling Basin. As well as water, Agriculture and Water Resources has to deliver the White Paper outcomes so hard fought for as well as maintain the massive turnaround that we have experienced in soft commodity prices.
I want to pay tribute to Senator Richard Colbeck, who has served with distinction as my Parliamentary Secretary over the past two years. He has been hardworking and extremely capable, particularly in assuming responsibility for the fisheries and forestry areas of the agriculture portfolio.