Weller to Chair Rural and Regional Committee

Member for Rodney Paul Weller has been elected Chair of the Rural and Regional Parliamentary Committee of Victoria.

The election took place in Melbourne yesterday afternoon at the committee’s first meeting.

The Rural and Regional Committee is a joint investigatory committee and its members have been drawn from both the Legislative Assembly and the Legislative Council.

Mr Weller said the committee’s first task was to conduct an Inquiry into the Capacity of the Farming Sector to Attract and Retain Young Farmers and Respond to an Ageing Workforce.

He said he was passionate about supporting young people in agriculture and looked forward to leading the investigation.

“The future of rural communities and the agriculture sector as a whole depends on more young people viewing farming and related industries as an attractive career path,” Mr Weller said.

“We need to remove the barriers many young people face in trying to break into the industry and we also need to ensure that young people are not forced to leave their traditional farming backgrounds because of a lack of opportunity and support.”

Under the Parliamentary Committees Act 2003, the Rural and Regional Committee is required to conduct the inquiry and report back to Parliament on the findings by February 8, 2012.

The terms of reference for the inquiry are as follows:

•    examine the benefits to the agriculture sector of attracting more young farmers (including youth and early career workers)

•    examine the factors that affect the ability of the agriculture sector to attract and retain young farmers including; the profitability and business competitiveness of agricultural and other industries; farming business acumen and recruitment strategies, remuneration packages and opportunities; career pathways for youth and early career workers; existing models of farm business; and the factors that influence rural quality of life

•    Provide strategies and recommendations that will promote the realisation of the benefits identified above.

Mr Weller said he considered his position as chair of the committee a great honour and was looking forward to the challenges ahead.

He said the committee system provided an effective avenue to achieve great public input into issues being considered by Parliament.

Tuesday May 24th, 2011