The union representing public service employees has called for the new leader of the Nationals to reconsider the push by former party leader Barnaby Joyce to move public service jobs out of Canberra.
The Nationals will elect a new party leader on Monday morning after Mr Joyce resigned last week, with the party expected to appoint Veterans Affairs Minister Michael McCormack to the role.
The changing of the guard should also mean a change in approach to the decentralisation policy championed by Mr Joyce, national secretary of the Community and Public Sector Union Nadine Flood said.
"Barnaby Joyce's attempt to dress up pork barrelling as decentralisation will be a black mark on his legacy. He has damaged public sector agencies such as the APVMA, and also hurt those who rely on their services, while doing very little if anything to boost regional employment and communities," Ms Flood said.
When announcing his resignation on Friday, Mr Joyce described the move for the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority from Canberra to Armidale in his electorate of New England as "at the forefront of what I do".
The CPSU's message for Mr Joyce's replacement is to look at other options for jobs in regional areas.
"The selection of a new Nationals leader offers the Turnbull government the opportunity to adopt a more rational approach that provides lasting benefit to regional communities in desperate need of quality jobs and quality public services," Ms Flood said.
"The Nationals would do well to examine the CPSU's proposal to create thousands of regional jobs in frontline agencies such as DHS and the Tax Office."
The decision to move the agency, which has fewer than 200 staff, has been costed at $26 million, while the Labor party has said the price tag would end up closer to $60 million. Last month it was revealed that staff were being offered up to $55,000 in moving costs if they relocated to Armidale and stayed for two years.
There was a surge in resignations at the agency in late 2016 and early 2017 after the move was announced.
"Uprooting an existing agency such as APVMA with existing staff is enormously expensive and disruptive and is absolutely no help to a young person in Armidale looking for a decent job," Ms Flood said.
"Creating new jobs in short-staffed agencies struggling to maintain service standards is a smarter way to bring quality jobs to these communities."
Controversy has plagued the move at every step, with staff members working out of the local McDonalds before a transitional office was found at the local Centrelink and Medicare offices.
The permanent location for the agency's offices is expected to be decided by the end of February, with three sites said to be in the running by local property developers.
The policy to move more public service jobs to the regions, pushed by Mr Joyce, was taken up by his then-deputy Nationals leader Fiona Nash, and now Queensland Nationals MP John McVeigh has responsibility for regional development.
The plan to push more public service operations out of Canberra and into the region appears to have lost steam after Ms Nash was found to be ineligible to sit in parliament due to her dual citizenship. She had previously said all federal departments must justify why their departments and agencies should stay in Canberra instead of being moved to regional cities. It was then clarified that only non-policy arms of the public service would be considered for moves to the regions.