The Turnbull Government is gradually running up the white flag on its crazy forced relocation of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) to Barnaby Joyce’s electorate.
The blatant pork barrelling exercise has been a flop and only a complete backflip from the Turnbull Government will deliver the capacity our farmers and other key stakeholders need.
Embarrassingly, the Government will have to change its own General Policy Order, which was trumpeted as a linchpin of their decentralisation “policy”, to allow one quarter of the APVMA’s staff to stay in Canberra. The Government proposes to spend up to $60 million on the relocation but it has given no indication that the heavy financial cost of the relocation will be less as a result of the retention of Canberra staff.
The independent cost-benefit analysis which the Government tried to keep a secret told us more than a year ago that the relocation is a shocking waste of taxpayers’ money which will hurt the agriculture sector. The Senate Committee said much the same. Barnaby Joyce’s hand-picked APVMA CEO told industry leaders in a speech that the suggestion that the relocation was causing workforce issues was a “furphy”. This was obviously untrue.
Through all of the chaos and dysfunction, Malcolm Turnbull has given his full support to the relocation of the APVMA. Sadly, it appeared that Malcolm Turnbull did not even understand what the APVMA actually does when he claimed that “The APVMA here, to build a connection with the University of New England, is a very logical connection.”
The APVMA does no research and it does no work with universities.
Speculation is rife that there is more bad news to come including increased approvals charges for those who manufacture the pesticides and veterinary products.
It’s time to run the white flag to the top of the pole and the Prime Minister must make it happen.