The Morrison Government has further questions to answer in relation to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) relocation to Armidale in Barnaby Joyces electorate.
The Department of Agriculture and Water Resources has refused to directly answer whether any tenders for the APVMA building site were received before 16 September 2016.
Answers to questions taken on notice at the Senate Committee inquiry into the independence of regulatory decisions made by the APVMA should have been a simple yes or no. Instead the department just restated what we already knew, which was when the tender process ran.
Transcript Extract - Tuesday, 20 November 2018
CHAIR: Did the department receive any tenders before 16 September 2016?
Ms Gaglia: My understanding is that they were received earlier that month. I think most of the tenders came in around about 7 September, but I'd have to take that on notice to confirm.
Answer: The department can confirm that the request for information by JLL Corporate Solutions was released on 15 September 2016 and closed on 7 October 2016.
It is critical that the Morrison Government answer the question as to whether any tenders were received prior to 16 September 2016 as this would have been prior to the deliberate fire that destroyed the Armidale Club at 91 Beardy Street, Armidale, the confirmed address for the APVMAs new headquarters. This would mean that there were interested parties who knew that the location of 91 Beardy Street would be available for the APVMA site prior to the fire.
Further, without 91 Beardy Street, Armidale becoming available, the adjoining site of 102 Taylor Street could not have been considered as a potential site for the co-location of the APVMA and Centrelink.
The forced relocation of the APVMA to Barnaby Joyces electorate has been a shambles from the moment the former Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister announced the blatant pork barrel. Scott Morrison must investigate whether a proper tender process was undertaken for the forced relocation of the APVMA to Armidale.