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Murray keen to fight for agriculture

Rueben HaleThe West Australian

WA's new shadow agriculture minister says he is keen to make his mark in the bush.

Mick Murray, the member for Collie-Preston, will take over the agriculture and food portfolio, more than two weeks after the shock resignation of former minister Ken Travers.

Mr Murray was a big winner in a Labor shadow cabinet shake-up, which saw him also pick up regional roads, racing and gaming, forestry and the South West.

No stranger to the farming industry, he grew up in Duranillin before moving to Collie as a young adult to complete a mechanic's apprenticeship.

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Before settling as the local Labor politician 14 years ago, Mr Murray spent 24 years in the Collie coal industry, with 12 years of that time spent mining underground.

He told _Countryman _living in a farming community had given him a genuine connection with the bush.

"It doesn't matter where you go. You live and breathe agriculture around you," Mr Murray said.

"I also have four uncles and quite a few cousins that are still involved in agriculture today.

"These connections are broad and common, but they are not from sitting behind a desk in the city."

Mr Murray said he had a clear vision for agriculture in WA.

"Agriculture has finally come out of the shadow of the mining industry and needs help and guidance," he said.

"I believe the role of Government is to be there for the industry. Not to get involved in the day-to-day farming, but to help grow markets and sell our produce in a better way.

"It is also critical that we maintain the quality of the products that we produce so we don't lose those markets."

Mr Murray said he did not support cuts to the Department of Agriculture and Food WA at a time when agriculture was expected to grow in the next decade.

"We should be sitting down with the leaders of agriculture, such as the Pastoralists and Graziers Association and WAFarmers, and working towards a common goal, regardless of political affiliation," Mr Murray said.

"I am a strong believer in a government bipartisan approach for agriculture in this State.

"It has been our staple and if you look around in the background agriculture has always been there, but not always treated as the friendly cousin."

A strong point of conjecture between Mr Murray and the State Government has been the genetically modified crops debate.

"I'm against the lifting of a moratorium on GM crops in this State until the Steve Marsh versus Michael Baxter case is finalised," Mr Murray said.

"The argument of 'I want to grow the crops I want to on my property' is flawed, because we've already seen the result of this case. The GM canola couldn't be contained to one property.

"It might be okay as a person in favour of growing GM crops … but the neighbour also wants to grow what they want without the other person's GMOs growing on their property."

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