Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce is attempting to get the hotly debated relocation of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority back on track with the appointment of a new acting chief executive.
Former CEO Kareena Arthy up and left recently to take up a job with the ACT government.
Joyce has selected Department of Agriculture and Water Resources assistant secretary for plant export operations Chris Parker, a qualified veterinarian and former farmer, to act as interim APVMA chief. The Deputy Prime Minister said the appointment would get the move back on track.
“This appointment will give the APVMA some certainty as it takes the next steps to build a world class regulator of agricultural and veterinary chemical products in regional Australia,” he said in the statement.
“This appointment also gives us time to complete a comprehensive merit-based recruitment process for a permanent APVMA CEO, to be based in Armidale.”
He thanked Arthy for “the leadership, skills and commitment she brought to the APVMA’s operation since her appointment in 2013″ and noted she had developed the agency’s relocation strategy and related preparatory work.
“During Ms Arthy’s time as CEO, she has led the APVMA’s implementation of the 2014 reforms to streamline regulation, better align regulatory effort with risk and improve registration and application processes,” said Joyce.
The unusually long statement also spruiked the Nationals leader’s vision of an “agricultural centre of excellence” in Armidale and his public service decentralisation plan, of which the APVMA move is a high-profile and controversial exemplar.
The plan has been criticised as a risk to organisational performance by key stakeholder groups and characterised as pork barrelling in the DPM’s own electorate by the opposition, but Joyce maintains it’s all going well.
“Strengthening Armidale’s agricultural science focus is already realising positive outcomes, with two new regulatory science post-graduate degrees recently established by the University of New England to deliver a ready source of highly qualified future staff for the APVMA,” he said.