The Ricegrowers’ Association of Australia has welcomed the announcement from Barnaby Joyce that the proposed relocation of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority had been put on hold, pending an independent cost benefit analysis.
RGA president Jeremy Morton said it was a sensible decision from the minister.
‘‘We have shared the concerns of many others in agriculture about the potential effects of shifting the APVMA away from Canberra,’’ he said.
‘‘There is a high risk that such a move would have decimated the capacity of the agency and affected our ability to maintain international competitiveness via access to new chemical technologies.
‘‘We will welcome the opportunity to have input into the cost benefit analysis and I’m confident the process will see commonsense prevail.’’
Mr Morton also welcomed the minister’s decision to shift RIRDC to Wagga Wagga.
‘‘As a major RIRDC industry, the rice industry is pleased that our preference for a shift to Wagga ahead of other options was heard.
‘‘A relocation wasn’t RGA’s strong preference, but we are sure that in partnership with RIRDC the industry can make it work effectively.’’
However, Mr Morton indicated that a key stumbling block remained.
‘‘Yes, we are content with the decision to choose Wagga. But we didn’t ask for the relocation and therefore don’t think rice grower levies should be used to fund it.
‘‘To fund this move from rice grower levies would be to strip back key research being done to improve our competitiveness in an expensive water market environment, in part due to this government’s basin plan reform.
‘‘The rice industry won’t be paying for the move and I look forward to this commitment from the minister as the relocation unfolds.’’