The federal Parliamentary Budget Officer, Jenny Wilkinson, and the head of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, Dr Chris Parker, have both announced their resignations.
Wilkinson will finish her service on January 27 and already has a new job lined up, according to a joint statement from Senate President Scott Ryan and Speaker of the House of Representatives Tony Smith:
“The Presiding Officers wish to thank Ms Wilkinson for her outstanding service over the last two and half years since her appointment in July 2017.
“We are sorry to lose Jenny from the parliamentary service but wish her well in her new endeavour.
“Ms Linda Ward and Mr Colin Brown will act in the role of Parliamentary Budget Officer until a permanent appointment is made by the Presiding Officers.
“After advising the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit, the search for a new Parliamentary Budget Officer will commence in the new year.”
Shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers and shadow finance minister Katy Gallagher also thanked Wilkinson for her efforts and said the PBO had become “an important part of our parliamentary democracy” since its establishment in 2012.
“It has provided a valuable and vital service to Labor over the last two elections, through the provision of costings and associated information as part of our policy agenda, and will continue to do so in the lead up to the next federal election,” they said in a joint statement.
“We have appreciated the hard work and professionalism of Ms Wilkinson and we wish her all the best with her future endeavours.”
Dr Chris Parker will step down as head of the APVMA once a successor has been hired.
“It has been a privilege and honour to lead the APVMA over the last two and a half years and I am grateful for the work of all staff, both past and present, for the work they have done to achieve some significant milestones and improvements in the organisation,” he said in a statement.
“I particularly want to thank my executive. Their work and leadership has been integral to driving improvements in the organisation. The APVMA is in a strong position to continue providing world class agvet chemical regulation with dedicated and enthusiastic staff who are a credit to themselves and the Australian Public Service.”
He is the second chief executive to resign from the regulatory authority since the widely criticised decision to move its headquarters from Canberra to Armidale, having replaced Kareena Arthy after her 2017 departure.
Parker says he is stepping down for personal reasons and lists “the successful relocation of the APVMA to Armidale” among the agency’s recent achievements despite a series of problems that suggest he is stretching the definition of success somewhat.
These issues included credible accusations of pork barrelling, a serious lack of support from key stakeholders, a cost-benefit analysis that did not support the move, a clear decline in agency performance, an exodus of hard-to-replace scientific staff, and a very suspicious fire that allowed the construction of a new office building in the country town, just in time for the APVMA to rent it out.
Parker’s replacement will work with a new board of directors if a series of legislative reforms make it through the Senate. Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie described this as a “non-controversial” change, shortly before it was attacked by the peak bodies representing makers of products regulated by the authority.