BARNABY Joyce has revealed he was the only person in the Cabinet fighting for the APVMA relocation, and has called on a commitment from Labor to leave the organisation in Armidale should it win the next election.
The New England MP was widely criticised for pushing to move the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) from Canberra, which he said was in line with his party’s decentralisation policy.
“I can tell you this now because I’m out of the Cabinet,” Mr Joyce told The Leader.
“I was basically the only one supporting the move in Cabinet, and I had to fight tooth and nail the whole way.”
The former deputy prime minister says he wants a “rock-solid commitment” from the Labor Party to support the APVMA now that it was up and running in Armidale.
“I call on the Labor Party to retract previous comments about moving the APVMA back to Canberra,” he said.
“For so long, regional areas have had people taking their service out of town and to the capitals. We don’t want one of the first real actions turning the tide to be reversed.
“One of the great advantages of having the regulator in town is that all the chemical companies will gravitate towards Armidale, giving the city another anchor industry. Without APVMA, they’re not going to come.”
Labor’s New England’s candidate, Armidale-based Yvonne Langenburg, said she had “not heard any talk of it going back” to Canberra.
“I doubt it will be moved back because of the cost,” Ms Langenburg said.
“It would be too hard to unscramble the omelette.
“The Labor Party position has always been that decentralisation is an excellent idea. It’s just about the means and the ways to go about it.
“The main issue with APVMA is that it was not properly thought out or planned – we all know it will have two offices, one here and one in Canberra.
“Decentralisation really needs to be planned out and evidenced based.”