With nearly three-quarters of scientists at the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) saying they are not willing to move from Canberra to Barnaby Joyce’s electorate of New England, the Greens have called on the government to ditch the plan.
“The Agriculture Minister’s proposal has been a prime example of a failure of consultation with staff, stakeholders and the community in general,” said the Australian Greens Agriculture spokesperson Senator Janet Rice.
“Despite dramatic survey results, there seems to have been nothing done to ease concerns about the move of these 200 staff and their families.
“The question this keeps coming back to is why did the government choose a location in Mr Joyce’s electorate? It makes no more sense than any other location in the country and has a clear negative impact on the AVPMA and their important work.”
When the APVMA surveyed staff in mid-2015 about their willingness to move to either Armidale or Toowoomba as part of the body’s relocation, 49 of the 68 regulatory scientists who completed it said they were unwilling to move.
“We heard today that scientists at the APVMA are highly qualified, often requiring five or more years of specialist training beyond their qualifications,” said Senator Rice.
“While the APVMA say they are working with the University of New England to introduce training pathways for regulatory scientists, this process could take a decade or more. Without a clear pathway to filling staff vacancies, I have no faith that the APVMA will be able to perform its key responsibilities if the decision to relocate is made.
“It is unacceptable that the only university consulted was the University of New England in Armidale, especially when the world-class CSIRO Black Mountain site, Australian National University and their joint National Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Precinct is already in Canberra.
“Barnaby Joyce has a responsibility to fully explain the move to his own electorate, including releasing the cost-benefit analysis, or else abandon the plans entirely.”
MEDIA CONTACT: Sam Drummond 0400 352 935