Monday, 5th March, 2018
By Kara de Groot
Parkes MP Mark Coulton has got a promotion following a cabinet reshuffle on Thursday, and is now Assistant Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment.
His new role will see him assist Trade Minister Steve Ciobo with his portfolio, including helping manage Australia’s trade relationships with other countries.
Mr Coulton said he hasn’t been informed of the finer details of his role yet, but expects to be made aware after he is sworn in today.
“I’m excited about it, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack came to my office on Thursday afternoon and asked if I’d do it, and I thought that considering a lot of the economy of my electorate is underpinned by trade, whether agriculture, mining or tourism, I could step up to a high level and do things of greater benefit to the people I represent,” Mr Coulton said.
“I imagine my role will require travel overseas at times and also I’m hoping tourism, and I’ll have to talk to Steve (Ciobo) about taking some responsibility with regional tourism and try and get my teeth into tourism programs that encourage tourists to regional Australia,” he said.
“Broken Hill relies heavily on tourists to provide income to the town and growing that industry is good for everyone.”
Deputy Leader of the Nationals, Senator Bridget McKenzie, was in town at the end of January with Mr Coulton and said she looks forward to working more closely with him.
She described him as a “fighter” for rural and regional Australia.
“Nobody understands the important of trade like our farmers, and Mark’s experience on the land will bring a strong rural voice to such a cornerstone portfolio,” Senator McKenzie said.
“He appreciates the important of opening new markets for our primary producers, education institutions and service industries.”
Mr Coulton said he won’t let his new duties miss time in his electorate, and is planning on spending a week in Broken Hill during AgFair in May, if not sooner.
He said part of his role will be highlighting the issues and positive things happening in his electorate so his colleagues in government are informed when looking at different policies and programs.
“I think it will be a challenge, but helping the Australian economy and more importantly the people I represent is important to me,” Mr Coulton said.
Coulton had served as deputy speaker of the House of Representatives since 2016 before stepping into this new role, which comes following a party reshuffle after Barnaby Joyce stepped down as leader of the Nationals Party and Deputy PM, with Michael McCormack taking his place in both roles.
Mr McCormack said he wanted to cause minimal disruption with his reshuffle, which saw Mr Coulton taking the position previously held by mid-north coast MP Luke Hartsuyker.
“I’ve known Michael (McCormack) for a long time and our electorates are next to each other,” Mr Coulton said.
“I work well with him and I’m sure that will be helpful when I’m in his ministry,” he said.
“There’s been quite a bit of change over the past few months for various reasons but things are stabilising at the moment and I’ll give the role my best shot and see where that takes me.”