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Anderson Welcomes New Ministerial Arrangements

The incoming Leader of the National Party, John Anderson, today welcomed the new ministerial arrangements announced by the Prime Minister after weekend talks between the two leaders.

Mr Anderson said the elevation of National Party Deputy Leader Mark Vaile to the key position of Minister for Trade ensures Australia has the senior ministerial clout that will be needed during the next round of multilateral trade negotiations under the World Trade Organisation (WTO), due to start in the US city of Seattle later this year.

"Mark Vaile is enthusiastic about this new role and sees it as a logical progression after stints in the transport and agriculture portfolios, leaving him well placed to look at trade in primary products from a paddock to plate perspective," he said.

"He is looking forward to vigorously pursuing Australia's interests in fairer trade rules in the forthcoming WTO round in such critical areas as agriculture and services, as well as building support for a more ambitious agenda that includes industrial goods."

Mr Anderson said the promotion of Queenslander Warren Truss from the outer ministry portfolio of Community Services into Cabinet in the key role of Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry was well deserved.

"Mr Truss has performed strongly in two challenging portfolios since being elevated to the Ministry in October 1997. He started with Customs and Consumer Affairs and during his time there overhauled Australia's anti-dumping laws and established clear country of origin labelling laws.

"Mr Truss has a background in primary industry, represents the rural electorate of Wide Bay and brings considerable experience and understanding of rural policy issues to his new portfolio."

"Interestingly, there will now be three National Party ministers in Cabinet with current or recent direct experience and knowledge of agricultural policy issues.

Mr Anderson said he was very pleased that the Member for Richmond, Larry Anthony, had accepted the Prime Minister's offer of the Community Services portfolio being vacated by Warren Truss.

"Mr Anthony has performed well in his role of Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Trade. He is ready to take this next step and is looking forward to serving not just the people of the NSW North Coast, but also the nation in a challenging portfolio.

Mr Anderson said he was delighted that Queensland Senator Ron Boswell had accepted the offer to join the frontbench being Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Transport and Regional Services.

"Senator Boswell, recently described to me as the conscience of the National Party, possesses a huge capacity to distil the essence of an issue and to effectively argue it for the benefit of the rural and regional small business community he cares so deeply about. I am sure his contribution as we seek to revitalise our hard-pressed rural communities will be invaluable."

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