EMPTY desks lined with dust.
Behind the entrance to the pesticides authority’s makeshift office in Armidale – is silence.
Despite the unoccupied space, interim CEO Dr Chris Parker said there are three full-time staff working out of the office – but they are often on the move.
“Our people travel for work when required and this includes travel to Canberra for training and induction,” he said.
“We’re set to increase this footprint following local recruitment of regulatory scientists.”
Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce opened the interim headquarters five months ago to give Canberra staff a base.
Fairfax Media visited the new digs, located within the city’s Centrelink office, on two separate occasions but no staff were seen.
Dr Parker said the APVMA was implementing “the government policy order” to relocate the agency’s operations from Canberra to Armidale.
“We are deliberately maintaining staff in Canberra whilst we increase the presence in Armidale over time,” he said.
In April, the APVMA announced a small team of locally recruited staff would work out of the Beardy St premises to ensure “local liaison with the Armidale community”.
But when Fairfax Media visited the office in June, the Centrelink manager said he had not yet met Dr Parker.
Mr Joyce said the agency received around 450 applications for the Armidale positions in recent weeks.
“We’ve got expressions of interest from those who want to move from Canberra out,” Mr Joyce said.
The Nationals leader said somewhere between 100 and 150 jobs would be on offer, with more expected as the operation grows.
“Once the regulator is here, all the other chemical companies are going to want to move here and that’s good,” he said.
“Everybody has seen the fight I’ve had to get the APVMA here and it’s not been easy.”
Mr Parker said offers for the new positions are expected to be released in the next few weeks.
The story APVMA staff mystery: Empty desks at Armidale headquarters first appeared on The Northern Daily Leader.