Audit report again highlights APVMA relocation folly

The CPSU says a new report by the Australian National Audit Office has again highlighted the unnecessary and growing damage caused by the Turnbull Government’s decision to relocate the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).

APVMA’s operations have been severely compromised since Agriculture Minister and Deputy PM Barnaby Joyce first made the decision to move the agency from Canberra to Armidale, in the heart of his own electorate.

The Audit Office yesterday released a report, which considered the relocation in the context of 2014 legislative reforms aimed at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of APVMA’s regulatory activities.

CPSU Deputy National President Rupert Evans said: “The Audit Office has rightly identified the damage that’s been caused by relocating APVMA. Nearly one in four staff have quit the agency just in the past year, including a large number of highly trained regulatory scientists and even the chief executive.”

“It’s a little ironic that this audit report takes aim at APVMA for not properly considering the risk of wholesale staff departures in the wake of the relocation, because it’s blindingly obvious that Minister Barnaby Joyce didn’t consider those risks either, or didn’t care about the damage his decision would cause to Australian agriculture.”

“It’s absolutely extraordinary for Minister Joyce to be claiming this audit report supports the Turnbull Government’s politically selfish decision to relocate this agency. The APVMA’s entire focus should be on providing timely and effective regulation, so this report confirms this relocation is the last thing APVMA needs. The relocation should be halted immediately. The damage being done will soon be irreparable.”

“CPSU members will always support action that improves organisational effectiveness but the potential from those improvements pales into insignificance compared with the damage that’s been caused to a critical part of our economy by the Turnbull Government’s pork barrelling.”

“The CPSU strongly supports the creation of Commonwealth public sector jobs in regional communities. We believe a far more cost-effective strategy would be to restore critical service roles that have been cut in agencies like Medicare, Centrelink and the Tax Office.”