The ANAO Performance Audit Report into Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Regulatory Reform has found that Barnaby Joyce’s pork barrel has weakened the APVMA’s risk management practices.
It’s past time Barnaby Joyce stood up and took responsibility for his reckless actions which have undermined the performance of the APVMA.
The findings of the report appear to point the finger at the Authority claiming it did not consider the risks associated with the proposed relocation. But the fact is this is all Barnaby Joyce’s making.
The Report stated that it found in late 2016, the then CEO informed the Government that the Authority was experiencing a ‘higher than normal rate of staff departures’. The CEO also noted the Authority had exhausted all avenues to fill regulatory scientist vacancies in its residue team and that there were staffing pressures in the pesticides, health, environment and chemical review teams.
But this is not the first time the then CEO informed the Government about the dire consequences that would occur if the Government proceeded with its ill-thought-out pork barrel relocation.
Through the recent Senate inquiry into the Government Policy Order which is forcing the APVMA to be relocated, it was revealed that the former CEO wrote to the Minister on 31 July 2015, advising that she was unable to support the current proposal to relocate the APVMA to either Toowoomba or Armidale at that time due to the magnitude of expected losses of expertise and experience.
This information was ignorantly ignored by Barnaby Joyce then, and he continues to try and re-write the facts now, claiming that the ANAO Report “reinforced the Coalition’s decision to relocate the agency”. He is fooling no-one (except maybe himself and the Prime Minister).
Barnaby Joyce also claims that “I am really disappointed that the poor implementation of the reforms by the regulator has not delivered the more efficient access to safe effective chemicals that industry urgently need and that’s why this government needs to take significant action to reform the APVMA”.
The fact is the APVMA has been dealing with the relocation crisis since it was announced by Barnaby Joyce in 2015. If Barnaby Joyce was serious about wanting the reforms to succeed, he would have invested the $25.6 million into the working of the APVMA rather than wasting the $25.6 million and more on relocating it to his own backyard.
The report also found the Authority is not well positioned to manage risks associated with staff retention as it prepares to relocate to Armidale. This will be of great concern to the agriculture sector and the APVMA’s key stakeholders i.e. the companies seeking to have their products evaluated and approved for registration up to the point of retail sale.
The fact is Barnaby Joyce created this mess and if he truly understood the magnitude of the devastating impact his pork barrel is having on the Authority he would concede he got it wrong and reverse his politicised decision to relocate the APVMA.
So that he can develop a better understanding as to what the APVMA actually does, this information should assist him:
The APVMA’s purpose is to evaluate the safety and performance of chemicals intended for sale in Australia to ensure that the health and safety of people, animals, crops and the environment are protected. The key regulatory activities undertaken by the Authority include: assessing and registering agvet products; approving active chemical constituents; issuing permits and licences; monitoring compliance with registration, permit and licence conditions; and investigating suspected non-compliance.
Barnaby Joyce can longer pretend he does not understand what the APVMA does nor the devastating impact his pork barrel will have on the work of Authority.
If he continues with his ill-conceived idea it won’t just be the Government that pays the price but the health and safety of the Australian people, animals, crops and the environment.