STUDENTS at the University of New England hold the lifeline to the stunted relocation of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.
Just eight scientists have made the move to Armidale since the Coalition announced the relocation two years ago.
Quietly, UNE has developed two Australian Government-approved courses in regulatory science to fill the gaps left by unwilling Canberrans.
“All the programs are and have been developed in collaboration with the APVMA and their industry partners and with other agencies that regulate chemicals and biologicals,” a university spokeswoman said.
“They are to raise awareness and to train regulatory scientists for the sector.”
Meanwhile, the political mudslinging on the controversial move continues after New England MP Barnaby Joyce blamed shadow minister Joel Fitzgibbon for trying to shut down regional opportunities. Mr Fitzgibbon made further use of the words “pork-barreling”, “dysfunction” and “shocking waste of taxpayers’ money”.
At least 30 to 40 staff and scientists will remain at a satellite office in Canberra in a move APVMA chief executive Chris Parker told Labor Senator Glenn Sterle was necessary to maintain the authority’s performance.
“There were risks associated with maintaining the performance of the organisations, a statutory responsibility of mine, so I needed to put mechanisms in place,” he said.
The Labor Party refuses to confirm whether it will reverse the decision to move the APVMA to Armidale if it wins the next election.
“Barnaby Joyce is already moving the APVMA back to Canberra, let’s wait and see what its status is in six months time,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.
The APVMA remains in the interim-office while the new building is being constructed on the old Armidale Club site by Queensland and Victoria based developer Stirloch Group at 91 Beardy Street and 102 Taylor Street.
A 15-year lease has been signed by APVMA on the site, and the APVMA has another six scientists planning to move from Canberra.
“We expect to have around 70 staff in Armidale by the end of the year, and by mid 2019, we will have around 150 staff in Armidale and around 40 in the Canberra satellite office,” an APVMA spokesman said.
“The APVMA, along with other regulators, has provided feedback to the University of New England about some of its science courses.
“The APVMA also hired a venue at UNE as part of our Accelerated Training Program for APVMA regulatory scientists this year, which has resulted in 38 staff receiving a Diploma of Government (Regulatory Science).
“The APVMA will continue to explore possible partnerships with UNE, where appropriate, in the future.”
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.