The forced move of 175 public servants from Canberra to northern NSW is not supported by a cost-benefit analysis, the federal government has conceded.
Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce sparked outrage in the capital during the federal election campaign when he announced the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority would move to Armidale in the heart of the minister's own electorate.
A cost-benefit-analysis of the move, commissioned by the Agriculture Department soon moved to the heart of the controversy with both the minister and department refusing to make the document public.
But in a TV interview on Wednesday, Mr Joyce admitted that the analysis had been done, but that its findings alone did not support the mass relocation.
"The analysis has gone through all the areas of the cost benefit analysis," the minister told Sky News.
"If you're going to premise it on the cost-benefit analysis, we wouldn't do it."
The opposition was quick to seize upon the admission on Thursday with Labor's agriculture spokesman Joel Fitzgibbon demanding the cost-benefit analysis be released.
"Barnaby Joyce today made the extraordinary admission that the cost-benefit analysis on the relocation of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority is damning and does not support the agency being moved to the Deputy Prime Minister's own electorate," the Labor frontbencher said.
"I call on the Prime Minister to hold his Deputy to account and order him to release the cost benefit analysis today.
"The Prime Minister must stop protecting his Deputy at the expense of the agriculture sector, workers and capability of the APVMA."