The decision by Barnaby Joyce to shift key regulatory and research corporations out of Canberra is misplaced populism.
He does not even understand what the research corporations do. While saying that “there are no fish in Lake Burley Griffin” is good for a media grab, he betrays himself.
The Fisheries Research and Development Corporation (FRDC) catch no fish. Similarly, the Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) grow no cereals, pulses or oilseeds.
Also the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) rear no livestock and grow no crops nor produce any of the output of the multiplicity of farming pursuits that they serve.
The RDCs do not do research. They use grower and producer levies to contract research bodies to undertake the work.
The research providers are the universities, CSIRO, State Departments of Agriculture, private companies and individuals. They should not be too close to any research organisation, competition helps guarantee farmers and fishers a good return on their levies.
The Australian Pesticides & Veterinary Medicines Authority is critical to both human health and the success of our agriculture sector. It's more than 10o scientists and other professionals are invaluable and like the RDCs, many will be lost if the organisation is forced to move to the Deputy Prime Minister's electorate.
The PM must intervene to stop this madness.
This letter was first published in Canberra Times on Saturday, 13 February 2016.