LABOR has refused to rule out moving the AVPMA back to Canberra if it wins the next election.
New England MP Barnaby Joyce called on the party to leave the recently relocated organisation in Armidale.
However, when Fairfax Media asked shadow agriculture minister Joel Fitzgibbon what the party’s long-term plans for the APVMA were, he remained uncommitted to a location.
“If elected a Labor government will do whatever it takes to ensure timely access to animal medicines and crop protection and the safety of our farmers, human and environmental health and companion animals are put first,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.
“In an admission of the folly of forcibly relocating the APVMA to Armidale, the government is already keeping highly-qualified regulatory scientists in Canberra.
“In doing so, it is in breach of its own Government Policy Order which demonstrates how desperate the government is to restore the APVMA capacity and capability to serve the agriculture sector and the broader Australian community.”
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Mr Joyce 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.”
This article first appeared in the Northern Daily Leader