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Tuesday, 14 October 2003
Page: 21303


Ms PANOPOULOS (3:01 PM) —My question is addressed to the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Would the minister advise the House how the Australian government is working to foster leadership skills amongst young Australians working in rural industries?


Mr TRUSS (Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) —I thank the honourable member for Indi for her question, which is especially appropriate today because there are 40 young people in the gallery from rural Australia who are participating in the Australian government's young rural leaders course. Two of them are from the electorate of the honourable member for Indi. We welcome Ross Gehrig and Nicola Bussell, who are amongst the people who are participating in this course.

The young rural leaders course is one of the elements of the government's Young People in Rural Industries program, which is part of the $800 million Advancing Australia agriculture initiative. Over this week these 40 young people will be covering a range of topics during their seminar, including how to develop policy in rural areas. They will be meeting many of the leaders in rural industry organisations. They will be talking about leadership styles, communications, media skills, meeting procedures and the like and will be endeavouring to develop the sorts of skills that are necessary to ensure that we have the quality of leadership in rural communities necessary to drive agriculture into the future. We have enormous capacity amongst the young people in regional Australia. This program demonstrates our confidence as a government in their capacity to lead rural industry into the future.

This is only one of a series of programs under this initiative. There are also the corporate governance scholarships, which provide opportunities for young people to participate in the Institute of Company Directors' week-long residential course. There are study awards to enable young people in rural industries to take on a particular project of interest to them. The export market development course provides an opportunity for 30 young people to develop skills in exporting rural products. The international observers program gives young people an opportunity to participate in international conferences as part of Australian delegations. Around 250 young Australians have now participated in this program. With over one-third of the people involved in agriculture aged between 18 and 35, this is an especially well-targeted initiative. I extend my best wishes to those who are participating in this program, including those who have come from the electorate of the honourable member for Indi and from the many other rural electorates around Australia. I wish them well in this course and indicate to them how important the government regards this program and its investment in the young people of Australia.