TASMANIA’s new Primary Industries Minister is the first to admit she has plenty to learn about the sector and doesn’t pretend to have all the answers, at least not yet.
Jo Palmer graced Tasmanian televisions for 18 years and her time behind the desk on Southern Cross Nightly News made her one of the state’s most recognisable faces by the time she stepped away from the camera in 2020.
In what she described as “perfect timing and a perfect opportunity”, she took her first steps into politics, contesting the Rosevears seat in the Legislative Council after independent member Kerry Finch called time on his 18-year term.
As a Liberal Party candidate, she won the seat by a tight margin over then-independent Janie Finlay. Earlier this year, following a cabinet reshuffle in the wake of former Premier Peter Gutwein’s retirement, she was elevated to Cabinet and assigned the ministries of Primary Industries and Water, Disability Services and Women.
“My absolute priority at the moment is just to listen and to learn,” Minister Palmer said. “There are a lot of stakeholders that I need to get around and listen too, a lot of representative boards and committees. “I want to go and just have face-to-face time with small business owners, with the families who are behind those businesses and who are making their living from the land or from our oceans.
“I want to know what impacts them on a daily basis and what are some of the things that we could do that would make them feel a bit more supported. “I don’t come into this space with any expert knowledge, I come into this space just with a heart for people, huge admiration for how tough it can be for people who work in primary industries in agriculture in aquaculture.
“I’m not going to pretend to know what the biggest challenges with the sector lay ahead, that’s part of this process. “That’s part of me not waltzing into this space, thinking that I know what those issues are. “I need to hear what those issues are. “We don’t want to be a government that’s fixing problems that are not there.
We want to be a government that is really listening and hearing what the issues are and then working out or what can we do in this space.” Ms Palmer also spoke with pride about her other portfolio responsibilities.
“I see a beautiful connection between being the Minister for Primary Industries and Water and being the Minister for Women. “Especially in agriculture, there are some phenomenal women in this space. “It is obviously a great passion of mine to look at women’s health, women’s safety, the economic struggles that we see with women.”