I welcome the opportunity to represent all Tasmanians in the Australian Senate.
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First came Filling (see below) and then there was Skilling the Food Bowl - a forum focused specifically on skills, training and education in the agrifoods industry.
This successful policy development forum was held at Clarendon House, Evandale, on February 24.
I co-hosted the event with State Liberals Deputy Leader Jeremy Rockliff and Federal Liberal Candidate for Lyons Eric Hutchinson.
We were pleased that both the Shadow Minister for Education, Apprenticeships and Training, Christopher Pyne and West Australian Senator Chris Back traveled to Tasmania to participate in the forum.
Senator Back is currently chairing the Senate Committee Inquiry looking at the higher education and skills training needed to support future demand for agriculture and agribusiness in Australia.
More than 60 people, including representatives from schools, farming and related businesses, stakeholder groups, rural communities and organisations such as the University of Tasmania, the Tasmanian Polytechnic, Tasmanian Landcare Association, Primary Industry Centre for Science Education and Australian Women in Agriculture, participated in the event.
A key message we heard loud and clear was that Australia, not just Tasmania, must address the skills needs in its food bowl regions to achieve the bright future we believe is possible for our agrifood industry.
The disconnection of agriculture with the broader community is demonstrated by the following student based statistics:
Training, skills and education pathways related to agriculture and agribusiness are pressing issues all around Australia right now.
We know the problems that currently exist impact industry and communities, and the attendance by a wide range of groups reflected that.
A common vision of an ideal 'education system' was developed by participants. It included:
How do we get there?
Our participants agreed on many of the issues raised and that there were many issues to tackle:
Skilling the Food Bowl gave us much food for thought in this important policy area. What's mentioned above is really just snapshot and the event confirmed that there is no substitute for grassroots consultation.
I'm looking forward to working with my State and Federal colleagues in the months ahead to develop sound policies which address the important matters raised.
If you were unable to attend Skilling the Food Bowl, you might like to read over the presentations below, which have kindly been provided by our guest speakers.
Our Liberal policy forum Filling the Food Bowl was a great success.
More than 50 people from across the food supply chain attended the event held in Deloraine on Saturday, October 15.
The program included three thought-provoking presentations from our guest speakers - Jan Davis from the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association, Kate Carnell from the Australian Food and Grocery Council, and Tom Lewis from RDS Partners.
If you missed the forum or you would like to revisit the themes, your can download Jan, Kate and Tom's presentations here.