Ferguson gets resources portfolio

INDUSTRY groups have welcomed the appointment of Victorian Labor MP Martin Ferguson as the Rudd Government’s Minister for Resources, Energy and Tourism.
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West Australian Senator Chris Evans, who served as Labor’s Shadow Minister for Resources and Energy over the last 11 months, has been shifted to the immigration and citizenship portfolio.

This is Ferguson's second stint in the resources chair. He was Shadow Minister for Primary Industries, Resources and Tourism from October 2004, until December 2006 when Evans took over that policy area.

For the past 11 months, Ferguson has been serving as Shadow Minister for Transport and Infrastructure, a portfolio in which he was praised by the industry for his work on policy development.

Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association chief executive Belinda Robinson said her organisation welcomed Ferguson's return to the Resources and Energy Portfolio.

The Australian Pipeline Industry Association also welcomed Ferguson's appointment.

“Mr Ferguson knows and understands Australia’s energy industries, particularly gas transmission,” APIA chief executive Cheryl Cartwright said.

“As we head into the critical phase of the new National Gas Law, we are pleased to be working with a Minister who has a genuine interest in the energy industries and an understanding of energy business.”

While Ferguson is seen as being capable and experienced, and is one of Labor's most senior players, some petroleum and mining companies will be disappointed that the resources portfolio wasn’t given to a West Australian.

However, APPEA was upbeat about the make-up of the new Cabinet.

"The Ministerial line-up represents a strong balance of experience, credibility, new ideas and a freshness of approach that the upstream petroleum sector is confident will serve the nation extremely well," Robinson said.

APPEA applauded the appointment of South Australian Senator Penny Wong to head up a separate climate change and water, and the inclusion of education in Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard's workplace relations

portfolio.

It was also pleased with the amalgamation of the industry portfolio with innovation, science and research.

"The industry very much looks forward to assisting the new government, as soon as possible, in further developing and implementing its policy agenda particularly in relation to energy policy, climate change, regulation, skills shortages and education," Robinson said.

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