UP TO 195 public servants could relocate from Canberra to Armidale under a plan by Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce to transfer the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority here.
Mr Joyce says Armidale is the preferred location for the authority and UNE vice-chancellor Annabelle Duncan has accommodated by hinting the authority could find a home on campus.
The move would establish Armidale as a centre for agricultural excellence and contribute more than $16 million a year to the local economy, Mr Joyce said yesterday.
“I’m confident the city will give [the proposal] the community support needed to convince my colleagues in Canberra to give it the final tick of approval,” Mr Joyce said.
But Mr Joyce said other regional cities such as Toowoomba were also well placed to host such a move.
“I am working with [Armidale Dumaresq] Mayor Laurie Bishop and ... State Member Adam Marshall as well as the University of New England and they have all been steadfast in their support for this proposal,” Mr Joyce said.
“If I can promote Armidale as a centre of excellence for agriculture, it will bring together people at the forefront of research, industry and policy.”
Cr Bishop said the plan was exciting, particularly since Armidale had been the first inland city to be National Broadband Network.
Professor Duncan said she was delighted by the plan.
“The injection of new jobs and industry into the New England economy is always welcome and we commend the federal government on its policy to decentralise government functions to regional areas,” she said.
Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall said Armidale’s future prospects would be greatly enhanced if the city advanced from a preferred option to the home base for the Authority. “We’re talking about a multiplier effect of 600 people if those 195 jobs come to Armidale,” Mr Marshall said.