NRPC Announce inaugural patron ahead of Matt Canavan event

NRPC President Colin Bettles (left), National Farmers’ Federation President Fiona Simson and CRRDC Executive Officer Tim Lester

The Canberra-based National Rural Press Club (NRPC) is proud to announce National Farmers’ Federation President Fiona Simson as its inaugural patron.

And on a day when the NRPC also co-hosted a nationally televised major speaking event with the National Press Club of Australia, featuring Northern Australia and Resources Minister Matt Canavan, a new sponsor has also been added to its strong list of existing supporters.

The Council of Rural Research and Development Corporations (CRRDC) will join with Westpac, CropLife Australia, Animal Medicines Australia, GrainCorp; and Case IH in backing the NRPC’s journey.

The NRPC was re-launched last year and brings together journalists and communication professionals covering issues facing rural and regional Australians linked to federal politics.

NRPC President Colin Bettles said having the CRRDC on board, Ms Simson as the inaugural NRPC patron and hosting an event at the National Press Club featuring Minister Canavan, along with existing sponsor support, showed the NRPC was continuing to head in the right direction to establish itself and play a role communicating and broadening debate on important rural issues, in the nation’s capital.

CRRDC Executive Officer Tim Lester said Australia’s Rural RDCs strongly believed in the future of rural and regional Australia and in the power of partnerships to achieve extraordinary results.

“Our rural industries are powerhouses of the Australian economy and with the National Rural Press Club we are looking forward to telling our stories to the broader Australian community,” he said.

Ms Simson – who is a highly regarded and recognised leader in the national farm sector – said she was honoured to accept the invitation to be the NRPC’s Patron.

“During my time as NSW Farmers President and now as NFF President, I have enjoyed the opportunity to engage with the longer established Rural Press Clubs,” she said.

“Last year I had the good fortune to address the Rural Media Association of South Australia, Farm Writers NSW and the QLD Rural Press Club.

“These clubs have a long history of highlighting the contemporary issues facing agriculture and of bringing the farm media and agribusiness communities together.

“They also do a fantastic job of recognising the story telling and talents of our rural reporters.

“I’m excited to be a part of the National Rural Press Club.”

Ms Simson said Canberra doesn’t always come to mind when agriculture is thought about, but it should.

“Agriculture has a stake in so many policy areas – environment, water, climate, energy, tax, workplace relations, communications, transport and infrastructure and of course trade,” she said.

“Think about the issues on the national agenda right now:

  • The threat of a trade war – significant ramifications for our farm exports
  •  Energy – many farm businesses are suffering from rising power prices and energy uncertainty.
  • Partisan politics hampering the Murray Darling Basin Plan – farmers, with the environment, are the losers here.

“Often the impact policy decisions have on agriculture are lost in the wider public debate.”

Ms Simson said it was the NFF’s role to ensure agriculture was considered in the larger policy debate and welcomed the NRPC’s role broadening that debate also.

“I believe it’s also the role of National Rural Press Club and its journalist members to make sure agriculture’s perspective is shared,” she said.

“The NPRC has an opportunity to bring these stories to light – to provide a platform to discuss agriculture’s place in policy and more widely, our nation.

“On that note, I wish, NRPC President Colin Bettles and the greater NRPC committee all the best.

“I look forward to being involved as the Club continues to highlight the issues important to our sector.”

Senator Canavan said he was addressing his views at the NRPC event because the professional networking group also aimed to enhance communication and drive debate on significant rural issues that are often misunderstood, by those outside the regions.

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