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Australian agriculture needs a champion in Cabinet.

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The Hon John Cobb MP Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

The new Shadow Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, John Cobb said his number one priority was to ensure the Rudd Government took the challenges facing agriculture in Australia seriously.

Mr Cobb said food and water security will be the defining issue of the 21st century.

“I am extremely concerned that no one is championing agriculture in the Rudd Cabinet and as a direct result stupid far reaching, long term policy decisions were being made to the detriment of the Nations’ food security and the productivity of rural and regional Australia.

“Decisions such as the purchase of Toorale Station near Bourke, and the $60 million gutting of the CSIRO research capabilities would not have been made if we had a strong Minister who understood or cared about country Australian.

“I am gravely concerned that the research and the science behind increased agriculture productivity and our bio-security and food security agencies are being compromised by budget cuts and policy decisions.

“I am constantly told by research organisations that unless they include ‘climate change’ or ‘global warming’ in their funding submissions their funding submissions are being knocked back.

“The simple fact of the matter is that you can’t eat a climate change computer data model.

“If the Chinese baby milk scandal which has called into account the safety of China’s entire food chain proves one thing, we can not rely on overseas imports to be clean, green and disease free.

“Australia is one of the very few countries which can currently guarantee the safety of our food chain, making it one of the most important food exporting nations in the world.

“Our ability of feed our neighbours will become more important in the years to come with population modelling predicting a doubling of the worlds’ population in the next decade.

“Federal and State Governments are cutting back our agricultural and bio-security capabilities at a time when the global food crisis is a very real issue.

Mr Cobb said the water debate was reaching a dangerous new level with the Rudd Government declaring war on communities in the Murray Darling Basin.

“Agriculture can not exist without water and I will continue to be a passionate advocate for water policies which ensure that our rural and regional communities can survive and thrive.

“I am passionate about agriculture and my whole life has been spent fighting for a better future for regional Australia.

“Part of my job is to make the Labor Party Minister, Tony Burke stop playing the petty backroom games learnt in the NSW Labor machine and start dealing in policies that will protect and improve rural and regional Australia prosperity.

“The Labor Party has forgotten that food and water Security is about people and the future of Australia and our neighbours will depend on getting agricultural policies right.