NATIONALS’ leader Barnaby Joyce is the new federal infrastructure minister after Darren Chester was this week dumped from cabinet.
Mr Joyce, the former kiwi and arch-foe of Johnny Depp, takes on responsibility for such issues as coastal shipping and inland rail, while junior Queensland Nationals’ MP David Littleproud scored Mr Joyce’s old portfolio of agriculture.
Speaking with reporters following his axing, Mr Chester spoke of how it had been “a great honour and a privilege” to serve as part of the Turnbull Government ministry.
“As the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, I’ve been very fortunate to be in a position to really have an impact on people’s lives,” he said.
“So it has been a great honour and a privilege to serve in that role, but politics is a tough game, and as the Prime Minister said today, he had to make some tough decisions regarding the allocation of portfolios, and on this occasion I’ve missed out.”
Mr Chester said he intended to be in Parliament for many more years to come.
Meanwhile industry groups were quick to praise Mr Joyce.
Ports Australia, the peak body for Australia’s Ports sector congratulated Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce on his appointment to the Infrastructure and Transport Portfolio.
Ports Australia chief executive, Mike Gallacher, said, the sector was excited to have a minister who “understands the potential of Australia’s agriculture and the need to make sure it can reach the international market as cost effectively and efficiently as possible”.
“Whether by rail or road, all paths lead to the ports and as agriculture grows to a $100 billion industry it is vital that Australians have cheap and reliable access to our international gateways,” Mr Gallacher said.
“It will be up to Minister Joyce to ensure that Aussie farmers can get their produce to the port gate with minimum disruption.
“The sector would also like to thank Darren Chester for his work over the last year,” Mr Gallacher concluded.
“As well as being a highly-regarded local member, as evidenced by winning re-election recently with an improved majority, Barnaby Joyce has been a very effective minister in the Turnbull Government, and we congratulate him on his appointment as Minister for Infrastructure and Transport,” said Victorian Transport Association chief executive Peter Anderson.
The Australian Logistics Council thanked Mr Chester for his contribution while also welcoming the appointment of Mr Joyce.
“The ministerial reshuffle announced by the Prime Minister today will mean the freight logistics industry’s priorities will remain well-represented at the highest levels of Government,” said ALC managing director, Michael Kilgariff.
“The Deputy Prime Minister’s personal commitment to Inland Rail is well known throughout the freight logistics industry, as is his passionate interest in developing transport infrastructure to support national supply chain efficiency and build Australia’s export capacity.”