I am proud to have returned to the place of my birth to represent our region in Canberra, and I am honoured the people of New England have put their faith in me.
New England has a long and proud agricultural tradition – producing just about everything that helped build Australia – cattle, sheep, grain, forestry and dairy as well as other produce such as tin, coal, gold and gas.
From the rainforest near Urbenville to the western downs at Yetman. Jennings, where the railway line terminated to change gauges for Queensland to Willow Tree in the south and includes the Breeza Plains – some of the best agricultural land in Australia – at its geographic centre is the university city of Armidale and in the south is the vibrant and growing economic hub of Tamworth.
Its cultural heart is the land and the land is good and the life is honest.
2014 will provide a once-in-a-generation opportunity for rural industry to examine the competitiveness of Australian agriculture.
It is the year the Federal Government plans to complete our Agriculture White Paper, which will assist in the formulation of future rural policy objectives over the coming decades.
The goal of the paper is to provide a stronger return at the farm gate through the generation of more jobs, better productivity and wider market access.
It’s essential we continue to assist our farming families experiencing hardship, including those dealing with rural debt and poor seasonal conditions.
We must get a better return back to the farm gate – and fighting to keep families on their own land must be the core of agricultural policy.
I will continue in 2014 to be a champion for the causes, such as these, which truly matter for the future prosperity of New England. Myself, and my wife Natalie, wish you all a safe Christmas and a Happy New Year.