The national pesticides authority needs to be moved from Canberra to regional NSW to fix the agency's performance, according to the federal government.
Coalitions senators have called the majority Senate committee report into the controversial move "a political witch hunt" and said the move to New England was justified on the grounds it would help solve problems recruiting qualified scientists.
The Labor-Greens dominated Senate Finance and Public Administration Committee savaged the plan to move the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority to the heart of Nationals' leader Barnaby Joyce's northern NSW electorate, saying it was driven by the narrow political self-interest of the Deputy Prime Minister.
But Mr Joyce's Coalition colleagues on the committee have hit back with their minority report, accusing their Senate colleagues of selectively quoting evidence and ignoring the many submissions the Nationals' solicited from country towns around Australia.
But it is the claim that the move was always driven by the need to improve the APVMA's performance that will raise eyebrows in Canberra and beyond.
Mr Joyce has consistently said the APVMA move, and those of other public service agencies in the agriculture portfolio was aimed at developing stronger links between rural industries and the agencies that serve them.
But the over-riding justification for the controversial policy has always been to spread the "largesse" of the federal government to the regions.
Despite the refusal of most of the agency's vital regulatory scientists to make the move to Armidale, Nationals senator Bridget McKenzie and her Liberal colleague James Paterson insists the policy is about trying to help the pesticides authority hire scientists.
"The government's commitment to move the APVMA to Armidale and to develop a centre of excellence is in response to long standing performance issues at the APVMA and the ongoing shortage of regulatory scientists impacting on the efficiency of the regulatory agency," the senators wrote in their dissenting report.
After the Senate committee inquiry was forced on the government by Labor and the Greens in February, the Nationals responded by calling on rural and regional communities from around Australia.
Many country councils responded by offering to paly host to public service departments, but Senators McKenzie and Paterson said the committee's majority report ignored the submissions.
"Government senators note that this policy of decentralisation is well supported in regional communities and this is demonstrated by the submissions received by the inquiry," the government senators wrote.
"Of the 199 submissions, the vast majority supported decentralisation."
Elsewhere in their report, Senators McKenzie and Paterson made their feeling clear on the committee's majority verdict.
"The majority report is unbalanced, selectively quoting wide ranging views on complicated issues to give a skewed view on an important agency for the agricultural sector," they wrote.
"This Senate inquiry process has been a political witch hunt right from the start."
"The majority report of the committee is filled with selective quotations from witness testimony designed to fulfil the objective of Labor Senators to scuttle both the relocation of the APVMA and the government's wider initiative of decentralising government to regional centres."
In a separate statement, Senator McKenzie said another parliamentary inquiry, by a select committee dominated by Coalition MPs, was looking at the broader decentralisation policy.
"Watch this space for a proper, balanced and focused decentralisation inquiry that will truly take the wishes of regional areas into consideration," Senator McKenzie said.