The Australian Labor Party announced its new look Shadow Ministry at the weekend, with a mixture of new and familiar faces in key regional positions.
The Hon. Joel Fitzbibbon MP has been reappointed to the Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry portfolio and will add additional responsibilities as Shadow Minister for Rural and Regional Australia.
He will be joined by Victorian MP Lisa Chesters in her new role as Shadow Assistant Minister for Rural and Regional Australia.
In a statement, Mr Fitzgibbon said the opportunities in the agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors are vast, but a plan is needed to capitalise on them.
“Labor will continue to offer a higher-value path to higher and sustainable profitability for agriculture, fisheries and forestry sectors”, Mr Fitzgibbon said.
“Further, the Turnbull Government has ignored our rural and regional communities.
“Cuts to health and education have hit rural communities hardest and Malcolm Turnbull's second-rate NBN has been a great disappointment to everyone keen to address regional disadvantage.”
The ALP has also appointed Stephen Jones MP to the portfolios of Regional Services, Territories and Local Government, and also Regional Communications.
Mr Jones said living in a regional community means he understands the importance of boosting services available to people living outside of our major cities.
“It is essential that regional Australia has a strong voice and unfortunately the Nationals party just hasn’t done enough to wield influence within the Coalition. Labor will hold them to account for their policy promises and their failures.
“The Prime Minister also promised to fix mobile phone “black spots” across rural and regional Australia. It is vital that we have a blackspot program that delivers on regional not political needs, so that areas vulnerable to natural disasters aren’t left off the list,” Mr Jones concluded.
President of the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF), Brent Finlay, said the organisation will look to meet with all members of the ALP who now hold key regional portfolios once Parliament resumes.