It was astonishing to learn in Senate Estimates today that the Department of Agriculture has no record of Barnaby Joyce using the expensive ministerial office he relocated from Sydney to his electorate.
Following the 2013 election, Barnaby Joyce wasted hundreds of thousands of taxpayers’ money moving the ministerial office from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices (CPO) in Sydney to Armidale. The pork barrel gives him offices in both Tamworth and Armidale.
A Departmental official told Senate Estimates that not only is hosting meetings in ministerial offices not standard practice, it was uncommon and unnecessary for departmental staff to travel to Armidale as meetings could be held over the phone.
Senator McCarthy asked during Senate Estimates: So Departmental staff wouldn’t be present in the Armidale office for ministerial meetings?
Secretary of Agriculture and Water Resources Department Daryl Quinlivan: Not unless there was some specific reason for them to be there.
Senator McCarthy: Has there been any specific reasons?
Quinlivan: There are from time to time, but we don’t keep a record of it.
McCarthy: So you don’t keep a record of where your staff go to support the Minister and Ministerial staff? But you know they go?
Quinlivan: Well they go as and when their participation in meetings and other events is sought and as the Minister (Senator Ruston) has just said, the participation might be via telephone.
This pointless and exorbitant relocation of Barnaby Joyce’s ministerial office is in addition to the estimated $60 million he will spend to uproot the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) from its base in Canberra to Armidale, you guessed it, in his own electorate.
Barnaby Joyce’s blatant and costly pork barrelling is his only real achievement in his four years as Minister.