House debates

Thursday, 17 July 2014



10:48 am

Photo of Mark CoultonMark Coulton (Parkes, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

) ( ): As we move into the 21st century and as we are signing trade agreements with out Asian neighbours to the north, the importance of a productive agricultural sector is now more important the even before. The interesting thing is that enrolments in tertiary courses in agriculture are at an all time low.

The irony of that situation is that for every graduate that comes out of a university with a degree in an agriculture related course, there are 2½ jobs for every graduate. There are wonderful opportunities for professional careers in agriculture. The Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation is doing its bit to encourage these young professionals into agriculture. It has developed the Horizon scholarship. Yesterday I was very pleased to meet with four young people from my electorate, the Parkes electorate: Richard Quigley, Kate Johnston, Jack Scifleet, and Felicity Taylor. These four were all here in Parliament house as part of the Horizon scholarship program. The Horizon scholarship provides a bursary of $5,000 a year to university students who are committed to a career in agriculture. I am absolutely sure that these young scholars, Richard, Kate, Jack, and Felicity will go on to be leaders in their field.

To receive a Horizon scholarship, a student must be undergoing a university degree associated with agriculture, such as agricultural science, rural science, agribusiness, agricultural economics, and resource management. Not only do Horizon scholarship recipients receive a bursary for the duration of their degree, they also are able to participate in professional development and mentoring programs to further add value to their educational experience. One of the great things about Horizon scholarships is that they give recipients the opportunity to partner with industry. This gives a very valuable insight into how agriculture works, and provides an opportunity to connect with industry professionals.

Yesterday, as I said, I met with Richie Quigley. He is young man from Trangie in Central Western New South Wales—a magnificent town, Trangie, and one of the strongest country towns you would ever find. He is now nearing the end of his degree and he told me that he has gained a lot from experiences through the Horizon scholarship. Richie has been sponsored by Woolworths and he has spent two weeks at a work placement at head office, where he has learnt more about the business and the other end of the supply chain.

Kate Johnston grew up on a property in Moree—as a matter of fact, the village of Weemelah, which is west of Moree and out towards the Mungindi area. She is currently completing a bachelor of rural science at the University of New England and has a strong interest in beef cattle. Kate is being sponsored by the Meat and Livestock Australia.

Jack Scifleet is a young man from Binnaway, currently studying a bachelor of agricultural economics at the University of Sydney. Jack is being sponsored by the ANZ Bank and he told me yesterday how great it was that he was on the Horizon scholarship, and that it enabled him to meet professionals within agriculture and agribusiness. Meeting professionals from within the industry provides the connection between the theoretical side of studying at university and the reality of business.

Felicity Taylor is a young lady I first met a couple of years ago. She was involved in the Moree showgirl competition. She is from Moree in north-west New South Wales. Felicity is completing a bachelor of agricultural economics. Felicity is being sponsored by the Cotton Research and Development Corporation.

Richie, Kate, Jack, and Felicity all show great potential and are already achieving into their fields. They will go on to become leaders in agriculture. I know these young people, I know their families, and they have got agriculture and a love of the land in their DNA. They have been brought up to respect the land and to have a belief in agriculture. The Horizon scholarship and their studies at university will give them the skills necessary to become future leaders. It is a great privilege as a member of parliament to meet motivated young professional people, and I wish Richie, Kate, and Jack all the best in their future.