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Barnaby Joyce's "Decentralisation" of the APVMA to Armidale

In November of 2016, then-Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, Barnaby Joyce, announced the relocation of the Australian Pesticides and Medical Veterinary Authority (APMVA) from Canberra to Armidale, a town with a population of less than 25,000 within Mr. Joyce's New England electorate. This announcement was made during the election campaign of 2016, with Mr. Joyce reportedly facing a "fierce battle" against "popular" independent Tony Windsor.

The front entrance and signage to the Australian Pesticides and Medical Veterinary Authority's office in Armidale, contrasted with Australian politician, Barnaby Joyce, pointing to a placard displaying architectural designs for the Armidale office.

Mr. Joyce had first announced the idea of moving the regulator to Armidale in June of that same year, suggesting that the move would contribute $16 million a year to the local economy and create an additional 200 jobs. At the time, he denied claims of "pork-barelling" and suggested that Armidale's connection to the NBN made is a "viable option." The move of the APVMA offices was decreed by the Coalition government by means of a regulatory order, and thus bypassed parliament.

According to Michael West Media, the move of the APVMA from Canberra to Armidale was against the wishes of virtually all stakeholders, barring Mr. Joyce himself, and also went against government advice which showed the move would provide limited benefit:

"The relocation of the APMVA was against the wishes of the authority itself and most of the major stakeholders, including the National Farmers Federation, and flew in the face of an Ernst Young report ordered by the government, which showed little to no benefit from the move...Mr Joyce pushed hard for the relocation while he was Deputy PM and Agriculture Minister, and has previously revealed he was the only one in Cabinet fighting for it."

Following the move the APVMA's performance declined. For example, in 2017 the APVMA achieved only 30% of its crop protection registrations work within designated time frames, a decline of 82% from the September quarter of 2016. In 2018, it was reported that the APVMA had missed its September 2017 deadline in delivering a review of Chloripyiryos, a chemical associated with defects in brain development in unborn children, and had pushed back its release until 2019.

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