Knowing it would never secure Parliamentary support, in 2016 the Government had Finance Minister Mathias Cormann issue a Government Policy Order (GPO) which forced the relocation of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) from Canberra to Armidale.
The GPO dictates that APVMA staff cannot be employed in Canberra.
But when it became clear - as Labor warned – that the APVMA could not secure the necessary workforce in Armidale, Barnaby Joyce’s hand-picked APVMA CEO Dr Chris Parker sought legal advice as to whether he could employ APVMA staff in Canberra, contrary to the GPO.
Allegedly, the legal advice is the basis on which Dr Parker is now recruiting and employing staff in Canberra. Labor calls on the Government to urge the APVMA to release this advice.
In Senate Estimates on 24 October 2017, Dr Parker clearly stated that he could not keep a Canberra based office as it “would be against the government order.”
The forced relocation has cost Australian taxpayers tens of millions of dollars and proceeded despite the Government’s own cost-benefit analysis warning against it.
It’s not just the taxpayer losing out. The forced relocation is affecting the performance of the APVMA and that is bad news for farmers, owners of companion animals, the environment and consumers of food products.
It is time for the new Prime Minister to step in and put a stop to this farce before more damage is done and more money wasted.