CEO Kareena Arthy quits APVMA to become Canberra’s chief cheerleader

By Stephen Easton

Monday April 24, 2017

The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority might be moving to Armidale but chief executive Kareena Arthy is staying in Canberra, where she will be responsible for improving the “liveability and productivity” of the national capital.

Arthy reported her resignation from APVMA on Friday, two days after Minister for Regional Development Fiona Nash announced plans to move a lot more federal public service jobs out of major cities. The lack of clear details around the announcement triggered a kind of panic in the ACT, with both sides of politics and the local newspaper leaping to defend its role as the seat of Commonwealth government.

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce tried to calm down the situation the following day and assure worried Canberrans, including some of his own federal parliamentary colleagues, that the capital’s economic growth would continue.

“Unfortunately, much of her good work has been swiftly eroded as a direct result of forced relocation of the APVMA and associated experienced staff losses.”

Given the opposition of many key stakeholders, a dismal cost-benefit analysis and the fact that Armidale is in Joyce’s electorate, the APVMA move has become the key political battleground of the decentralisation drive that has Canberrans concerned that their own economy is being cannibalised.

Arthy’s new role, coincidentally, is a rather parochial one that involves a lot of cheerleading for the city.

She will be responsible for the functions of Enterprise Canberra as a deputy director general with the Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate. The business unit encompasses the government’s efforts to promote Canberra as a tourist destination and a centre of innovative entrepreneurialism.

Enterprise Canberra, through its sub-units, Active Canberra, Cultural Canberra, Innovate Canberra, the Office of International Engagement, Skills Canberra and VisitCanberra, serves multiple interrelated purposes:

  • Develop and grow emerging enterprises, entrepreneurs and sectors to expand our economic base, provide local jobs and grow our export capability.
  • Promote Canberra to the region, the nation and the world to attract visitation, business investment and students.
  • Nurture grass roots sports and elite athletes and mould our reputation as a centre of regional sporting excellence.
  • Produce major events for our city and manage significant arts, sports and event infrastructure.
  • Grow our arts ecology so that it is valued locally, nationally and globally as one that underpins our city’s liveability.
  • Provide higher and vocational education accessible to all to increase skills of workers, provide better employment outcomes for business and identify future training requirements to develop the ACT economy.

Leaving the APVMA after more than four years was a  “difficult decision” for Arthy, according to Friday’s statement, which also noted it was now up to Joyce to worry about its leadership in a time of major upheaval that already has some stakeholders worried.

CropLife, the peak body for makers of the agricultural and veterinary products regulated by the agency, was already very concerned about the impact of the move to Armidale. On Friday the group’s chief executive Matthew Cossey said Arthy’s departure was disappointing as she had “always professionally and constructively engaged with industry” and provided strong leadership.

“Since her appointment almost five years ago, Ms Arthy [led] the APVMA through significant change with legislative reform and a range of internal management and operational improvements,” Cossey said.

“Under the leadership of Ms Arthy the APVMA improved its performance and we hope that internal improvement momentum is not lost with her leaving. Unfortunately, much of her good work has been swiftly eroded as a direct result of forced relocation of the APVMA and associated experienced staff losses.”

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