In an act of desperation, Malcolm Turnbull dashed to Armidale today to help Barnaby Joyce mislead the Australian people on his Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) pork barrel.

The Prime Minister has either fallen for Barnaby Joyce's spin or he's agreed to tell porkies to save Joyce's bacon.

The Prime Minister said that:

“I think it’s very important that we have more research and more educational centres in regional Australia and of course the APVMA, naturally, here particularly with the connection to the University of New England is a very logical connection. There are many really powerful arguments to seeing more of our research outside of the big cities. It underpins the economies in regional centres, many of which have been challenged of course by the downturn in the mining and construction boom. Not so much an issue here but in other parts of Australia. Education, science research can provide a very good underpinning for regional economies.”

This statement exposes the Prime Minister as either deliberately trying to mislead Australians as to what the APVMA actually does or he does not understand the function of the Authority. It is a regulator and deals primarily with multinational drug companies which, as we know, are not situated in rural Australia.

The APVMA is not a research and development body.  It is a regulator.  This point was reiterated by Dr Bhula during Senate estimate hearings in 2013, when she was trying to explain to Senators as to what the Authority is responsible for.

Dr Bhula: “The APVMA does not do any research itself in terms of exploring alternatives. That is the responsibility of the state department of agriculture and research organisations, as well as the user and industry groups.” 19 November 2013.

Sadly, Dr Bhula has left the APVMA and this was a great loss to the Authority, we can only speculate that this loss was due to the forced relocation.

Further, Barnaby Joyce again tried to cherry-pick aspects of the cost benefit analysis to support his ill-conceived thought bubble by making comparisons to the benefits to Armidale and the cost to Canberra stating that:

“I have never had anyone in Armidale complain about jobs coming in to this town. When you think about it, and you can see it in our cost benefit analysis, there is an exponential benefit to Armidale and almost a microbial detriment to Canberra which will grow in any case. Remember we are spending more on the renovations in Parliament House, four times as much as what it costs to move the APVMA here, so let’s not cry in our beer. Canberra is a beautiful city, wonderful city, God bless Canberra but let’s make sure the vision of our nation goes beyond one town in our nation.”

Yet not a word about APVMA’s loss of capability which will directly impact on the accessibility of new and innovative products for our farmers and on the evaluation of the safety and efficacy of products used by millions of Australian every day.

Therefore, to assist both the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister attached is a basic description of what the APVMA actually does.

APVMA basics:

The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) is the Australian Government regulator of agricultural and veterinary (agvet) chemical products.

For an agvet chemical product to legally be manufactured, imported, supplied, sold or used in Australia, it must be registered by the APVMA—unless exempt by the Agvet Code. The registration process involves scientifically evaluating the safety and efficacy (effectiveness) of a product in order to protect the health and safety of people, animals, plants and the environment.
The APVMA regulates agvet products up to—and including—the point of retail sale.

Agvet chemicals—whether used by farmers, pest controllers, veterinarians or other home or professional users—are regulated by the APVMA. This includes:

• Agricultural chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides, biocides, insecticides and seed treatments
• Veterinary chemicals such as medicines, antibiotics, hormonal treatments and some stockfeeds and petfoods, and
• Other chemicals such as insect repellents, garden sprays and pool chemicals.

The APVMA regulates these chemicals and products up to—and including—the point of retail sale. 

It’s time both Malcolm Turnbull and Barnaby Joyce did the right thing by our farmers and the broader Australian community and reverse their ill-conceived decision to relocate the APVMA to shore up Joyce's electorate.

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