New APVMA boss revealed as former Howard government adviser Chris Parker

Former Howard government adviser Chris Parker has been named as the man to lead the pesticide authority's forced move from Canberra to Armidale.

Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority boss Kareena Arthy quit last month at the height of accusations of political pork barrelling by Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, who is relocating the agency to his own electorate of New England.

Mr Joyce announced the former farmer and experienced public servant would serve as interim chief executive, weeks after a temporary office was opened in the same building as Armidale's Centrelink offices.

Dr Parker was a senior political adviser in the agriculture portfolio during the Howard government and is currently assistant secretary for plant export operations at the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

From 2011 until 2015, he served as an agriculture counsellor at Australia's embassy in Washington.

Mr Joyce said recruitment for a permanent chief executive will take place in coming months. Dr Parker is expected to apply for the role and relocate to Armidale.


"This appointment will give the APVMA some certainty as it takes the next steps to build a world class regulator of agricultural and veterinary chemical products in regional Australia," Mr Joyce said in a statement.

"This appointment also gives us time to complete a comprehensive merit-based recruitment process for a permanent APVMA CEO, to be based in Armidale."

Labor agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon raised questions about Dr Parker's political affiliations.

"While Dr Parker appears well qualified for the role, his political pedigree was no doubt a factor in his selection," he said.

"Barnaby Joyce wants a CEO who is willing to say the crazy taxpayer funded pork barrel has merit and is prepared to drive the move without complaint or challenge.

Mr Fitzgibbon said Labor would demand a full, transparent and proper selection process for the permanent role.

Agriculture leaders expect a minimum five-year lag on approvals for new pesticides will follow the agency's forced relocation, coming as part of a whole of government decentralisation push led by the National Party.

About 50 regulatory scientists and public servants have already left the agency, with staff surveys in 2015 and 2016 showing fewer than 10 scientists planned to uproot from Canberra to Armidale.

About 40 job applications have been logged in Armidale.

Industry group Animal Medicines Australia welcomed Dr Parker's appointment on Wednesday.

"The animal medicine industry and the public depend on a regulator that is efficient and effective to keep our pets and livestock healthy," executive director Ben Stapley said.

"Dr Parker's veterinary science and public policy experience will be invaluable in making sure our pets and livestock have access to innovative medicines and remain healthy."

Mr Joyce praised Ms Arthy, who also worked for the Howard government and is set to become deputy director-general of the ACT government's Enterprise Canberra agency.

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