SUBJECTS: APVMA relocation, Coalition Agreement FOI, Farm Household Allowance.
THURSDAY, 9 FEBRUARY 2017
JOEL FITZGIBBON, SHADOW MINISTER FOR AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES, FORESTRY AND RURAL AND REGIONAL AUSTRALIA: The deceit, dishonestly and secrecy of this Government continues. Today Malcolm Turnbull and Barnaby Joyce have me in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Why? For having the audacity to seek under FOI the Coalition Agreement, that is the agreement that allowed Malcolm Turnbull to become Prime Minister. The deal he did with the Nationals Party. There is no greater foundation in our democracy than such information. The Australian people are entitled to know what Malcolm Turnbull and Barnaby Joyce agreed in that Coalition Agreement back in 2015. So I am saying to Malcolm Turnbull and Barnaby Joyce, stop spending taxpayers’ money on expensive legal action. They did the same thing when I was seeking the letter between Barnaby Joyce and sacked departmental secretary Paul Grimes, a battle I won and I will win this one. We will find out what agreements were entered into, what deals were done to ascend Malcolm Turnbull to the Prime Ministership.
The second issue today is the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority. As you know Barnaby Joyce is trying to move it from Canberra to Armidale in his own electorate in one of the most audacious pork barrelling exercises I have seen in this place in two decades. Barnaby Joyce has now launched a full scale attack on the farming sector. The relocation of the APVMA is already destroying its capacity, it’s going to enormous impact on farm productivity and is going to have an impact potentially on human health. It’s a disaster. A report out yesterday, the quarterly report of the APVMA, shows their approvals are well down. One in four applications are not getting through the authority because yesterday we also learned that 100 staff have been lost from the APVMA since Barnaby Joyce announced his intention to relocate the authority. That nearly half of the authority’s workforce that has already left because they are unprepared to move to Armidale. This is a disgrace and is putting Barnaby Joyce’s political interests ahead of the interests of Australia’s farmers and the interests of human health in this country and indeed Australia’s agriculture exports.
Third point, since 2014 I have been saying that Barnaby Joyce’s Drought Policy is a failure and people cannot access the Farm Household Allowance. You will remember I asked him this question in the House and he embellished the effectiveness of the Farm Household Allowance and then doctored his Hansard because he had so dramatically mislead the House and we know where that saga took us, the sacking of a highly qualified and highly regarded public servant in this town. Now today, Barnaby Joyce is putting a Bill into the Parliament he says will finally fix the Farm Household Allowance. Well I hope so, but for the last three years he has been denying there is a problem and for the last three years farmers have been suffering because of their inability to get access to that support, the support Barnaby Joyce has said has no fault. I am glad three years on he is finally doing something about it but it is three years too late.