Today there is further evidence that Barnaby Joyce’s decision to relocate the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority to his own electorate will cost taxpayers upwards of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Media stories are focused on the relocation of staff and the financial impact on both Canberra and Armidale, however, the loss of the APVMA’s capability will directly hit our farmers and their productivity aspirations.
The APVMA’s vision statement is that “ Australians have confidence that agricultural and veterinary chemicals are safe to use”. The relocation of APVMA will threaten Australia’s clean, green and safe image.
These are all crucial points that should be the focus of any Agriculture Minister, but particularly for a Minister who constantly claims that he is actually a farmer and therefore understands what is best for the sector.
Further, on the weekend I called on the Deputy Prime Minister to declare any arrangement he discussed or established with Don Burke following the celebrity gardener's extraordinary comments in the Canberra Times.
Don Burke declared it was acceptable for Minister Joyce to move the Australian Pesticides and Veterinarian Medicines Authority (APVMA) from Canberra to his own electorate because:
"You can't do it (pursue your dreams of making Australia a better place) if you're not in office. He's got to survive."
"It can be corruption, but not in this case."
The comments follow Mr Burke's appearance in a video with Minister Joyce in which Mr Burke endorsed the APVMA relocation.
Barnaby Joyce needs to clarify any arrangement he has with Don Burke and why he is preferring to take advice from a celebrity gardener as opposed to industry representative bodies who have direct contact with those who will be most affected by this ill-conceived relocation.
It's time we knew all the facts and consequences of Minister Barnaby Joyce's pork barrelling exercise and it is time Malcolm Turnbull became engaged in this issue.
The APVMA’s own indicative timelines show that there is still time to reverse this ill-conceived thought bubble.