The newly appointed Shadow Minister for Agriculture and Regional Development Dr Steve Thomas said today that he was grateful to be given the opportunity to champion the cause of rural and regional communities and industries. 

“I intend to demonstrate the stark difference between someone who will passionately support and promote agriculture and country people, and the current Minister who has a track record of undermining them” Dr Thomas said. 

“Alannah MacTiernan is ostensibly the Minister for Agriculture, but has demonstrated herself to be opposed to live export, GM crops, glyphosate, and intensive animal production.” 

“She has empowered animal rights activists who invade farms and threaten farmers and their families by linking farm trespass laws with her animal rights agenda, in doing so justifying their actions” Dr Thomas said. “It is time Western Australia had a genuine spokesperson “for” agriculture, not an opponent of it.” 

Dr Thomas said that the portfolio of Regional Development also needed a reboot. 

“The Regional Development Commissions are no longer advocates for their regions and are now simply an administrative extension of the Minister’s office” Dr Thomas said. “They have become merely an extended secretariat for Minister MacTiernan.” 

“We have gone from driving the regions forward to merely driving the Minister’s agenda.” 

Dr Thomas also plans to refocus the Royalties for Regions program, and is proposing to engage with the National Party to do so. 

“It is time for a mature dialogue between the two parties, so that we can focus on the shortcomings of the Labor Government instead of each other” Dr Thomas said. “R4R had to change, to be better focused and accounted for. But under Minister MacTiernan “it has simply become a tool for Labor to cross subsidise the consolidated fund and pay for its regional election promises.” 

“I want the National Party to join us in keeping the focus on Labor. To do this, we need to come to a sensible and mature agreement on the functioning of Royalty for Regions, and I believe this needs to happen before we go to the election in eight months.” 

“Therefore in my joint roles as Shadow Minister for Regional Development and Finance, I will be inviting the National Party to the table to attempt to hammer out a more formal agreement on the way we would take R4R forward.” 

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