There has been plenty said at a national level following Friday’s announcement by Barnaby Joyce about the move of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.
By making the election commitment last year that, if re-elected, the APVMA would be relocated from Canberra to Armidale, the Member for New England was immediately criticised. At the time, the press gallery in Canberra called it pork barrelling, as did Mr Joyce’s political opponents, and the Community and Public Sector Union.
Since Friday’s announcement that the move would go ahead, with an official policy order issued by the federal government that will require the authority to be located at least 150 kilometres away from Canberra, there has been more criticism.
We have even seen some national media resort to making fun of our city, as a hick town in comparison with our national capital, and while some of it is amusing and entertaining, it does leave us wondering how many of the commentators have actually visited our community recently.
We welcome the decision by Mr Joyce to ensure the relocation goes ahead, and we welcome the benefits our city will receive.
As the independent economic analysis provided by Ernst and Young reveals, we can expect 53 direct and indirect jobs next year, 404 the following year, and 350 in the third year following the relocation.
The numbers also showed Armidale will make a four per cent employment gain in the second year alone while the ACT will only lose 0.2 per cent thanks to relocation the authority from there to here.
We note that equates to a 0.2 per cent economic loss in Canberra and a 4.7 per cent or almost $100 million gain for Armidale.
We can appreciate that is will not be convenient for every employee of the agency to be moved to a new location, and the economic benefit to the Australian economy is only modest. But as has been demonstrated, the benefit to Armidale will be huge, with job creation and a diversifying economy.
The announcement followed last week’s news that Armidale would be the location for TAFE’s Digital Education headquarters, and as we wrote in response to that, the APVMA move shows that our wonderful city is growing, expanding, and has a lot to offer.
We say well done to the federal government, for recognising what our city has to offer. They can see the potential, as well as we can.