Barnaby Joyce has taken pork-barrelling to new levels, enacting new regulations which restrict two corporate Commonwealth entities from operating within 150km of Australia’s national or state capital cities in order to fulfil his election promises.
The regulation means that Bendigo and central Victoria are not deemed as ‘regional’ communities, and therefore not eligible locations for the Veterinary Medicines Authority and Australian Pesticides.
Mr Joyce committed to moving the bodies to his own seat of New England during the last Federal election at a cost of up to $193 million a year according to a cost-benefit analysis.
Ms Chesters said Mr Joyce was using his role in Parliament to make rules which discriminate against regional electorates that aren’t his seat of New England.
“This is a reflection of Barnaby Joyce’s lack of integrity and his propensity to look after himself to the disadvantage of taxpayers and other regional people.
“Bendigo is the regional commercial centre for central and northern Victoria. To say that it is not a regional community is ridiculous. We have the geography, people, knowledge and innovation to be an agricultural policy and regulatory hub.”
Ms Chesters said the regulation raised a lot of questions.
“Why the need for a regulation? There was no regulation required when the Liberal-National Government closed the Australian Emergency Management Institute on Mount Macedon last year and moved its operations back to Canberra.
“And why wasn’t Bendigo considered as the base of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority given that we are home to MSD Animal Health, which develops a range of veterinary medicines and services?
“Further, is this a sign of things to come? Will the Liberal-National Government apply similar regulations to other government departments, agencies and entities?
“The Liberal-National government must rule out any further regulation that prohibits corporate Commonwealth entities with agricultural policy or regulatory responsibilities from operating in Bendigo and central Victoria.”
Ms Chesters said the Liberal Government has continually slashed public sector jobs in Bendigo.
“Since the Liberal National Government came into power in 2013, we have seen job cuts at the Bendigo Australia Post and Centrelink and forced closures of the AEMI and the ATO office.
“These job cuts have had a huge impact on the central Victorian economy.”