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Mayor urges Minister to do the right thing by the local community and keep the APVMA in Armidale

Mayor of Armidale, Cr Sam Coupland, urged the Agriculture Minister, Murray Watt, to ‘take the politics out’ of any decision on the future of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (“APVMA”) and commit to keeping the organisation based in Armidale.

Noting the Strategic Review of the APVMA released in July this year which found significant issues with the culture and management of the organisation, Cr Coupland said Armidale was not to blame on the issues at the APVMA and should not be made the scapegoat for a decision which will decimate the local economy.

“It is well within the Minister’s power to get on the front foot and commit to the APVMA remaining in Armidale. This will provide certainty to the 150 employees and their families and does not preclude the APVMA then undertaking any internal cultural and managerial changes that may be needed,” he said.

“Good management in 2023 is less about location and more about making a job attractive to attract top talent and Armidale has that in spades.

“If Canberra has a problem with the APVMA, they need to make better decisions about who they put into roles, not kick an entire regional community in the guts for something that is beyond their control.
“To blame a township on mismanagement within an organisation, and to then punish that community in the process is ludicrous and I challenge the Government to come up with a regional Australian community which is better suited to being host to the APVMA.”

He noted the Armidale community boasts a world class University with research focussed on the agricultural sector, it was the first in the country to get the NBN with fibre to the premises and has multiple daily flights to and from Sydney and Brisbane so you can get most places in a day from Armidale by air.

“This is not the Commonwealth Games, it doesn’t happen once every four years if we bid for it,” said Mayor Coupland

“This is about daily lives and income and families and the people who are doing amazing work, despite the decisions being made above them and beyond their control.

“Another 150 jobs in Canberra is a drop in the ocean, but the loss of 150 jobs in a regional community such as Armidale, that has a catastrophic impact. It potentially means we not only lose out on these jobs but it means we lose out on teacher positions, on nursing positions at the local hospital and the economic activity that comes with those jobs.”

“Ultimately, the minister's decision as to the location of the APVMA will speak volumes about his commitment to regional Australia. If he opts for an about face and drags the APVMA back to Canberra it won't just be the lives and livelihoods of the employees that he impacts, but the message will be one of re-centralisation and abandoning the regions.”

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