Many thanks to UNE’s Sarah Rohr for sharing her reflection on the 2016 IFAMA team’s recent visit to Canberra:
On the 31st of August the five members of the 2016 IFAMA team, Conrad Rees, Sally Beer, Maxwell Laurie, Craig McGlashan and myself, Sarah Rohr were invited by Hon Barnaby Joyce MP to attend an afternoon at Parliament house along with Sally Strelitz. Met by his office manager we were recipients of VIP treatment, passing the crowds on the very busy first day of Parliament under the newly elected government. With an excellent position we were able to witness firsthand the excitement and robust discussions of question time, the passion and energy in the debate was distinct with tensions more than evident.
Following from question time we were guided to Barnaby’s office, with a quick glimpse of the Prime Minister’s Corridor on the way, where he generously gave us 15 minutes of his time amongst an afternoon full of commitments. In this time, we individually discussed our areas of interest, study and backgrounds while also gaining an insight into his operations, responsibilities and staff with input from policy advisors in regards to the support that they provide and the varying areas their roles entail. The short time was just a window into his schedule and commitments amongst his portfolio, electorate, travel requirements and duties as Deputy Prime Minister. We then had a brief tour through some areas of Parliament house which provided context for the minister’s work and roles of the government. A more detailed discussion with two policy advisors lead to conversation regarding opportunities in agriculture and related professions and how to get involved. Our final meeting was with four members of the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, with professions in agronomy, exports, international markets and commodity analytics who each explained their roles and the scope of their department. They continued the discussion to our own areas of study well into their personal time and the opportunity was greatly appreciated by all.
This day was a fantastic opportunity to see the implementation of policy based on research we are all growing accustomed to at UNE. One of the most notable aspects was the excitement that these professionals have for their job and the significance of agriculture in Australia, both currently and in the future as well as the personable approach they all took to encourage future development of our agriculture industry and research. Sincere gratitude goes to Sally Strelitz for organising and coordinating our day, Hon Barnaby Joyce MP for his time and hospitality for the IFAMA team, REX Airlines for generously assisting the travel to Canberra and UNE for facilitating the IFAMA team.