Broad appeal for Nationals


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THE retirement of veteran Victorian Nationals MP John Forrest has opened the door for one of the nation’s young farming leaders to enter federal politics.

THE retirement of veteran Victorian Nationals MP John Forrest has opened the door for one of the nation’s young farming leaders to enter federal politics.

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Former Victorian Farmers Federation boss and National Farmers Federation director Andrew Broad says he’ll now nominate for pre-selection in Mr Forrest’s vacant Mallee seat.

Mr Forrest’s 20-year career was lauded by federal Nationals leader Warren Truss after announcing on Wednesday he won’t be contesting his seat at this year’s federal election.

The ink had barely dried on the news headlines when Mr Broad declared he wanted the opportunity to represent the people of Mallee in federal Parliament.

The 37-year-old Victorian cereal, oilseed and prime lamb farmer purchased his first property at the age of 22 and won a Nuffield Scholarship in 2006, opening the opportunity to study agriculture in over 40 countries.

In 2009 at the age of 33, he became the youngest ever VFF president and held the post for three years before stepping down last year, to spend more time on his family farm.

Mr Broad also supports stronger R&D investment and backs advancing crop biotechnology which he studied under his Nuffied Scholarship.

He believes the future of biotechnology is in developing biotech wheat varieties that enhance drought tolerance or improve fertiliser use.

During his time at the VFF and NFF, Mr Broad says he stood up to the Rudd-Gillard Government on two key issues - the carbon tax and poorly drafted Murray-Darling Basin Plan.

He’s been an active member of the National Party for many years and served on the State Council between 2007 and 2009.

Agri-political analysts say Mr Broad’s move to Canberra has always been viewed as an eventuality in his career, rather than a possibility, and one that he’s privately pursued and even anticipated, while serving in his different farming representative roles.

“The people who live in the federal seat of Mallee are contributors to Australia’s wealth, culture and environment,” Mr Broad said.

“Their contribution needs to be strongly represented in the Parliament.

“Their fair share must flow back to ensure our health, our schools, and our communities can grow and prosper.

“The people of Mallee are my kind of people. Many of them come from the land or work in small businesses.

“My experience as a small business owner, my understanding of agriculture and my passion for rural Australia will help me to represent them in Canberra.”

Mr Truss joined Mr Forrest at the Wimmera Machinery Field Days where his retirement announcement was made.

Mr Truss said Mr Forrest championed the National Party ethos that every regional community is entitled to its fair share of the wealth that regional Australia generates for this country.

“It is the mark of the man that despite his preparedness to champion local interests and be forceful in representing local needs, John has consistently enjoyed the respect and admiration of all sides of the Parliament,” he said.

“That he has done so over such a long innings is testimony to his character.

“He lives his strong Christian convictions and has always been ready to stand up for what he believed to be right.”

Mr Forrest entered federal politics after the 1993 election and served as Chief Nationals whip and as a Shadow Parliamentary Secretary.

Mr Truss said the Mallee electorate was bigger than Tasmania which has 12 senators and five members of the House of Representatives.

But he said Mr Forrest would laugh and say, “that just means I have to shout 16 times louder”.

“John has been a gentleman in every sense of the word,” he said.

“It’s a tag that has lost no currency in the modern age, in fact, it’s even more valuable today.

“And, from the backbench, he has made a remarkable contribution to Australian life, proving you really can make a difference to the people you represent and the nation as a whole.

“Probably his greatest achievement for his electorate was the $1 billion Wimmera Mallee pipeline.

“He championed this project before he entered parliament and secured $450 million of federal funding to see the project completed, assuring water for farming and town use throughout the Wimmera Mallee.

“This project is his special legacy to his electorate.”

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