The National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) today appeared before the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration’s Inquiry into the Relocation of Commonwealth Entities with a simple message: “we support decentralisation but not at the expense of our sector’s productivity”.
NFF Agvet Chemical Taskforce Chair Reg Kidd said farmers were the strongest advocates for living outside of a city.
“It is where we do our business. We know the benefits of living and working in regional and rural Australia and we must continue to work to ensure these communities remain strong and vibrant.”
Mr Kidd said the NFF supported the relocation of Government agencies to regional Australia, subject to a number of caveats.
Mr Kidd said a critical point was that, by and large, regional communities were reliant on a strong agricultural sector.
“Therefore, it is essential that any agency relocation not compromise the productivity and success of the farm sector.”
Specifically, Mr Kidd said the NFF continued to have reservations about the relocation of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) to Armidale, New South Wales and the potential for a negative impact on its services, performance and business.
“For some time the performance of the APVMA has not met the expectations of its key stakeholders, including farmers,” Mr Kidd said.
“The NFF remains concerned that the disruption to the APVMA’s operations, as a result of its relocation, could exacerbate this.”
“The farm sector requires a commitment from Government that the agency’s efficiency and effectiveness will, at the very least, not be further compromised and ideally, enhanced going forward.”
Mr Kidd said it was essential farmers had timely access to a range of approved chemicals to manage agronomic, pest, disease and/or environmental issues as they arose.
“Any delay in processing applications for these controls could have major operational and financial consequences for farmers. Ultimately, it is our sector’s productivity and competitiveness that is affected.”
“The take-home message is that a long-term benefit will not flow to regional communities if the agricultural sector is disadvantaged.” Mr Kidd said.
Mr Kidd reiterated that, with any touted relocation, there must be clear reporting of the potential costs and benefits as well as adequate additional funding to support the move.
NFF submission to the Inquiry into the operation, effectiveness, and consequences of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability can be found here.