OBERON will have its federal representative on the frontbench after it was confirmed that Calare MP Andrew Gee will be getting a promotion.
Mr Gee, who has held Calare for the Nationals since the 2016 federal election after shifting from the NSW Parliament, will become the new assistant minister to the deputy prime minister, Michael McCormack.
The assistant minister role became vacant when Mallee MP Andrew Broad was forced to resign after a texting scandal with a woman from a "sugar daddy" website.
“Andrew has a passion for and dedication to his electorate and for country people which is infectious,” Mr McCormack said of Mr Gee.
“He was parliamentary secretary to the deputy premier and for regional roads in the NSW Liberal and Nationals’ Government before he came to represent Calare in Canberra, and that experience listening to country communities and sharing their ideas and aspirations will be central to Andrew's new role.”
Mr Gee said he was “passionate about attracting jobs, opportunities and investment to the bush”.
Labor’s candidate for Calare, Jess Jennings, was critical of the Nationals’ record on climate change.
He said news of the above-average temperatures in 2018 should have been enough to get the Nationals talking about climate change, but said they were instead in a state of denial and were therefore letting the region’s farmers down.
“The National Party should be out there today going ‘There’s a crisis happening, this is affecting our farmers, we want to do something serious about it’ and [they’ve said] nothing,” he said.
Dr Jennings said he would be responding in a very different way.
“One, is to understand it, and then, two, to try and work out how we go about coming up with policy solutions that transition the whole economy so the farmers don’t experience 50 per cent more drought than we would otherwise have if we go above 1.5 or two degrees Celsius,” he said.
He said climate change would lead to price spikes and low availability, but also also affect health and infrastructure.
Mr Gee said the key was to build resilience and preparedness among farmers.
“I think a great local example of the right approach was the Australian Government’s $2 million contribution towards a biomass boiler at MSM Milling,” he said.
“This project helped MSM reduce energy costs and environmental impacts while supporting jobs.”