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New ministry welcomed locally

Tuesday, 5th April, 2011

Key parts of the NSW Coalition's new ministry have been welcomed locally.

Premier Barry O'Farrell has reintroduced the Department of Primary Industries and appointed a Minister for Western NSW.

The Coalition Government's new cabinet was sworn in on Sunday with Kevin Humphries appointed Minister for Western NSW.

Broken Hill's mayor said he was pleased that calls for a Ministry to deal with the west had been heard.

"It's great. We've called for that some time," Mayor Wincen Cuy said yesterday.

Mr Humphries' electorate of Barwon and local MP John Williams' Murray-Darling electorate cover two thirds of the land mass of NSW, taking in much of the land west from the Blue Mountains to the SA border.

Mayor Cuy while the area was sparsely populated, it was also very different from the eastern areas of NSW and served specail attention.

"The population might not warrant it but the geographical size and the uniqueness definitely warrants it," Mayor Cuy said.

"If we have any concerns now we have a minister we can go to."

A ministry devoted to the west was also welcomed by the president of the Pastoralists' Association of West Darling (PAWD).

Sue Andrews said the region had been long forgotten.

The PAWD, which represents local primary producers, said it was "optimistic" about the future.

"Peter Black did a great deal for the Western Division. Certainly the last four years have been so hard because NSW was nearly broke and no matter what you did you couldn't achieve much," Mrs Andrews said.

"Now there's more emphasis on other things - infrastructure and talking to the people. I think they'll achieve a lot more for the people."

Seven National Party members now hold portfolio positions which Mrs Andrews said would mean Parliament would have a better understanding of how the bush worked.

"People that have experienced it and can take that to the parliament. It's going to have to help."

Mrs Andrews also welcomed the Coalition's move to bring back the Department of Primary Industries and Katrina Hodgkinson's appointment as Minister.

It's the first time NSW has had a woman at the helm of primary industries.

She said the reintroduction of the DPI would benefit the west.

"Before it was in such a super department that it was just lost," Mrs Andrews said.

"For research and development and delivering the message - it was just given such a low priority.

"Primary industries is very important because it's the food bowl - it's the food of the nation and it's very easy (to lose sight of that) especially when the majority of the population is city-based."

Mrs Andrews who, coincidentally, was the first woman president of the PAWD, said it did not matter that a woman was taking the helm.

"As long as she does a good job it doesn't matter what gender they are," she said.

"I think you find nowadays most of the pastoral properties are either just husband and wife and family affairs. They both have an equal say and I know a couple of properties in western NSW which are run by women. I don't think it matters."

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