INCOMING member for New England Barnaby Joyce can add now minister for agriculture to his list of jobs.
Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott said Mr Joyce knew country Australia like the back of his hand, had a strong farming background, had been a farmer all his life and would do a good job ably assisted by Richard Colbeck.
Mr Joyce said agriculture was the portfolio most people in the New England wanted him to have and his first move was to bring the rain.
“If there’d been a competition and I asked people what portfolio they’d want me to have, most people would’ve said agriculture,” he said.
At the Tamworth Regional Livestock Exchange, graziers congratulated him on his new role.
It’s been a big week for Mr Joyce, after he was re-elected deputy leader of The Nationals and now named agriculture minister.
He said his first priorities were to get the live cattle trade up and running, working with the water minister to get the best outcomes for farmers in relation to the Murray-Darling Basin and growing the ties to south-east Asia to export our quality agricultural produce.
Mr Joyce said he wanted people to understand the importance of agriculture and that it was not to be the whipping boy of the environment.
He said he’d do most of his work from the New England electorate because it was a strong agricultural region.
“There are two types of problems – Tamworth problems and other problems,” he said.
“If people say they have an important problem, I ask them is it so important they need to come to Tamworth to see me, or is it another problem. If it’s so important, they can come to Tamworth.”
Mr Joyce said he would walk quietly at first, find the targets he needed to hit and hit them quietly.
“I won’t be jumping in and redesigning the Opera House,” he said.
Mr Joyce said he’d been out marking lambs on his property at Barradine at the weekend, which was one way of getting ready for the agriculture portfolio.
Mr Joyce is no stranger to portfolios, having been the opposition spokesman on water and regional development previously.
The new ministry will be sworn in tomorow.