Wright MP Scott Buchholz is the Abbott government’s new chief whip.QUEENSLAND LNP MP Scott Buchholz’s elevation to the chief government whip’s job has placed another rural politician with strong farming ties closer to the centre of government business.
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“Scott is a strong local member and is highly regarded within the party room,” Prime Minister Tony Abbott said last week in announcing the key changes.

Mr Buchholz replaces long-serving MP Philip Ruddock, who Mr Abbott said had made an “extraordinary contribution to our country, this government and the Liberal Party”.

Mr Buchholz will join Western Australian Liberal MP Nola Marino who remains in the government whip’s role and also serves a regional electorate with a strong agricultural economy, especially dairy farming.

Tasmanian Liberal MP Andrew Nikolic was also appointed to a government whip’s job in another move by Mr Abbott aimed at boosting his connection to frustrated backbench MPs who cited ineffective consultation as a key reason for last week’s leadership vote.

In 2012, Ms Marino launched the cross-party Parliamentary Friends of Primary Producers forum that meets periodically on key farm issues and shares information between parliamentarians while consulting with leading industry groups.

‘Positive move for the bush’: CanavanMr Buchholz was born and raised in regional Queensland and is a former chief of staff to Nationals deputy leader and federal Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce.

The 46-year-old is the inaugural member of the Wright electorate which was formed in 2010.

Another former chief of staff to Mr Joyce – LNP Senator Matt Canavan – said Mr Buchholz’s appointment as chief government whip was a positive move for the bush.

“Scotty has the kind of nature that makes people gravitate to him,” he said.

“If the PM wants to get closer to the backbench I couldn’t think of a better person.”

‘Terrible mistake’: AbbottMr Abbott rejected suggestions from Queensland Liberal MP Andrew Laming that Mr Ruddock’s removal was, “scapegoating of Godzilla proportions” following the vote on last week’s leadership spill motion.

“Philip Ruddock is a friend, Philip Ruddock is a colleague and Philip Ruddock was a supporter,” Mr Abbott said.

“But what I am determined to do is have a deeper and stronger engagement with the backbench and that means it was very important to renew and refresh the whips team.”

In a television interview at the weekend, Mr Abbott said he was so focused on economic, security and national security issues last year that he didn’t have enough time to talk to his parliamentary colleagues.

“Now this obviously was a terrible mistake,” he said.

“It’s not something that I’m ever going to repeat.

“And one of the reasons why I’ve made some changes to the whip’s office is because I do want a much stronger relationship with the backbench in the future than I’ve had in the recent past.

“I’m confident that with the whip’s team we’ve got, I will be very much aware of what’s going on inside the party.

“And let’s face it – if it’s going on inside the party, it’s going on inside the community,” he said.

“Because, in the end it’s not just communications between members of parliament that’s important, it’s communications between the government and the Australian people.

“In the end, that’s who we work for.

“In the end, that’s who we serve.”

What’s in a whip?The party whip is a member of parliament selected by their parliamentary party to take on the role of ‘team manager’ and performs key roles such as counting votes during divisions.

They also meet with opposing party whips to plan the parliamentary day, set out the agenda and resolve procedural details, including speakers on debates.

They also provide advice and support for party members and ensure party decisions are carried out.

According to Mr Buchholz’s website, the division of Wright covers about 7600 square kilometres across south-east Queensland, south and west of Brisbane.

“It is very diverse, covering the lush farmlands of the Lockyer Valley and Scenic Rim, the iconic tourist centre of Tamborine Mountain and the outer suburban regions of Ipswich, Gold Coast and Logan,” it says.

“Farmers, small business people, retirees, young families and people enjoying a variety of lifestyles all make up this vibrant and community-focused electorate.”

It also says Mr Buchholz has lived on a farm for many years with his wife Lynn and daughter Gracie and has previous experience working in the agri-finance sector.

“While working to build his own transport business, Mr Buchholz also served in the community as a Director of Lifeline Community Care.

“This gave him a deeper understanding of the difficulties and challenges of raising a family – especially with increasing costs and pressures,” his website said.

“He’s campaigned for a better deal for local dairy farmers and founded the ‘Parliamentary Friends of Small Business’ to give small business issues a higher priority.”

Mr Buchholz has been contacted for comment by Fairfax Media.

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