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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 14 December 2016) . . Page.. 145 ..

Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority—proposed relocation

MR STEEL: My question is to the Chief Minister. Can the Chief Minister outline the impact of the decision by the federal government to move the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority to the Deputy Prime Minister’s electorate? How will this affect the ACT economy?

MR BARR: Yes, I am pleased to be able to provide some information to Mr Steel, and I thank him for the question. I think it is universally agreed, even by those on the other side of the chamber, that this is one of the worst decisions made by a federal government in living memory.

Ms Fitzharris: And that is saying something.

MR BARR: The minister is right. That is saying something. But in this case, it goes close to being true. It is a bad decision for the agency; it is a bad decision for Canberra; and it is a bad decision for the sector. You do not need to listen to me. You need to listen to the National Farmers Federation, to CropLife Australia, to Animal Medicines Australia, who all opposed this very bad decision from the Deputy Prime Minister.

All of these peak industry bodies are, of course, headquartered in Canberra. The Deputy Prime Minister’s decision will undoubtedly disrupt what is a niche and specialist industry. The move raises the prospect of a considerable deterioration in the agency’s capacity to perform the functions that the Australian people have entrusted to it.

Reports are that fewer than 10 scientists in this regulator will move to Armidale; fewer than 10. So this agency is effectively being gutted and moved to Armidale—pork-barrelled into the Deputy Prime Minister’s electorate in one of the most blatant political decisions that I think we have seen in this country in recent times.

The impact, as estimated by the commonwealth’s own business case, is that Canberra will lose 365 direct and indirect jobs or 0.2 per cent of total employment in the territory. Of these job losses, nearly 190 come from the APVMA itself and 176 indirect jobs are lost to the economy. The ACT is $155 million worse off as a result of this pork-barrelling exercise.

MR STEEL: Chief Minister, how is the government ensuring Canberra’s economy is supported in the face of ongoing cuts by the federal Liberal government?

Mr Coe interjecting

MR BARR: The Leader of the Opposition interjects, “Ongoing cuts”. Well, yes, they are ongoing, and this is another example. Even he will not try to defend this decision. What we are doing is focusing on the role the territory government can play in supporting the ACT economy at this time and continuing that support into the future.

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