Making a ‘T’ for Tumba and Timber… Mat Thomsen, Hyne Tumbarumba site optimisation manager, Ed Husic, Sam Saboune, national production manager, and MP Kristy McBain.

NSW Labor MP Ed Husic will take over responsibilities for agriculture, resources and forestry in the shadow cabinet following the shock decision by Joel Fitzgibbon to quit his senior role after an internal brawl on energy policy.

A communications specialist and former trade union leader, Mr Husic, 50, took his first step into regional affairs last week travelling 480 km from his Chifley electorate in western Sydney to visit the Hyne Timber mill at Tumbarumba.

Recovery is well under way at the mill thanks to the many volunteers and emergency services who protected it throughout the bushfire crisis.

Joined by Eden-Monaro MP Kristy McBain, Mr Husic’s visit was an opportunity to provide an update on attempts to find avenues of support to get logs to the mill from outside the viable freight distance while showcasing modern softwood manufacturing and the many jobs it supports directly and indirectly.

AFPA CEO Ross Hampton said industry looked forward to working with Mr Husic and briefing him on the opportunities and challenges facing forest products industries and the 180,000 workers across its full value chain.

“AFPA and our members have a positive working relationship with the federal Labor Party and many of its MPs and senators who represent key forest industry regions across the country, and we look forward to Mr Husic continuing Joel Fitzgibbon’s good work in this role,” Mr Hampton said.

“I am confident Ed Husic will build on Labor’s pro-forestry platform that has led to bipartisanship on key issues ranging from the regional forest agreements to allowing plantations to participate in the carbon market.”

Mr Hampton said he expected that while Mr Fitzgibbon was moving to the opposition backbench, he would continue to be a passionate advocate for regional jobs and communities, and for the forest industries.

Mr Husic was elected to the House of Representatives for Chifley in 2010 and was re-elected in 2013, 2016 and 2019. He served as Shadow Minister for the Digital Economy and Shadow Minister for Human Services until 2019 when he resigned to make way for Kristina Keneally.

He was parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and parliamentary secretary for broadband.

Mr Husic was national president of the Communications, Electrical and Plumbing Union of Australia and divisional secretary of the CEPU (communications division) before being elected to federal parliament.