Australia needs an Agriculture Minister that specialises in agriculture, not secrecy.
The Greens say recent revelations about Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce spending tens of thousands of dollars to hide a letter add to his refusal to release a cost-benefit analysis for moving the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, and raise serious questions about his integrity.
“Instead of admitting his government wasn't looking after farmers struggling to survive, it appears the Minister went out of his way to hide the real situation,” said Greens Agriculture spokesperson Senator Janet Rice.
“The Minister could have come clean sooner but wasted tens of thousands of dollars hiding it.
“This attempt to hide inconvenient evidence puts his refusal to release the cost benefit analysis for the move of AVPMA into his electorate into context. He has form. He seems to specialise in secrecy.
“Who can now believe Barnaby Joyce’s assertions that the move of AVPMA is appropriate? The move of AVPMA sounds and smells so much like pork barrelling by a Minister who is willing to do anything to suit his own interests.
“Barnaby Joyce has a responsibility to fully explain the move to his own electorate, including releasing the cost-benefit analysis, or else abandon the plans entirely. What has the Minister got to hide?
In response to the Senate’s order, the government said the cost-benefit analysis has been provided to the department but cited “confidentiality of the Cabinet process” for not releasing it*. The government also refused to answer any questions about the rationale for the move at last week’s Senate Estimates hearings.
* Government’s response to the Order for the Production of Documents attached.