By BRIAN TESSMANN, QDO President
The cabinet reshuffle announced last week by Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk gives the state Labor government the chance to reconnect with the agricultural industries and rural and regional voters generally. QDO would like to congratulate the member for Bundaberg Leanne Donaldson on her appointment as Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and look forward to meeting and working together with her on a range of issues vital to the states dairy farmers. I also commend her efforts in making contact with industry representatives in her first days on the job.
Over past years QDO has had very close and constructive relationships with Agricultural Ministers on both sides of politics including Tim Mulherrin the well-known and respected Ag minister in the previous Bligh Labor government. While there has been some media chatter about the new Minister’s lack of history in the Agricultural industries it must be remembered that it is not necessarily the past involvement in an industry that makes a good Cabinet Minister. It is the desire and willingness of that Minister to work with industry to achieve better outcomes for the industry and the people whose family’s future rely on.
The Minister will be heading a team with some new faces including a number of changes at the top of the department over the past year including Jack Noye moving aside for Beth Woods to become the new DG of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. This should give Minister Donaldson the opportunity to take a fresh look at the range of issues vital to the future of Queensland Agriculture generally and in particular dairy farming in this state.
It is essential that issues such as developing market initiative to counter the impacts caused by the major supermarkets be understood and implemented. High on the issues list too should be biosecurity. The current moves around changes in Tick management, the tick line along with the review of Bovine Johnes disease management remain issues that Queensland dairy. The issues steam from the management reviews and the proposed changes flowing these decisions.
The big problem the Minister will face is that the state government will continue to put pressure on the department to find savings and push responsibility cost back onto industry for work and services previously carried out by government. When doing this government should be mindful of each industries particular problems and requirements by moderating demands accordingly to assist practically with time and resources. To achieve this however, Minister Donaldson and her department will need to be properly informed by industry of what their issues and requirements are and not hide behind the loud filibuster types and bullies with little or no knowledge of dairy issues.
If the new Minister can do this then it will be the first step in the Labor government constructing some new bridges to reconnect with the Agricultural industries. QDO is ready to engage for the wider benefit of its members and the government, but as I mentioned earlier, it comes down to if the minister and government really want too.