Pork barrelling, which is a term that refers to using government funds for projects designed to please voters in a particular electorate, appears to have the full support of federal Nationals senator John Williams.
It comes in response to questions put to him by The Echo regarding deputy prime minister and Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce’s plans to move the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) from Canberra to his electorate in Armidale.
According to multiple news outlets, including an interview on ABC TV show Insiders, Mr Joyce ignored any accountability over the move, which would see 175 public servants forcibly relocate from Canberra to the heart of Mr Joyce’s electorate.
Mr Joyce refused a senate order to produce a key document on his plan, and attempted to hide a cost-benefit analysis on the move, which cost $270,000. It was later released and claims the move would cost tax payers at least $25.6 million.
The Echo asked Mr Williams if he support this move, ‘given it appears to be costly, unproven and undermines the public’s confidence in politicians being accountable and acting responsibly.’
Senator Williams replied, ‘I support people moving to regional areas which takes pressure off the housing market in the cities.’
‘This boosts regional economies and builds confidence in business.
‘I fully support the APVMA move to Armidale because the city also has offices of organisations like Australian Poultry and Sheep Industry CRC’s, CSIRO, Beef Industry Centre
of Excellence, MLA and Animal Genetics and Breeding Unit just to name a few. ‘There are also the excellent research facilities of UNE.
‘As a result of the vision of then NSW minister for Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Ian Armstrong, Orange became home to the Department of Primary Industries (DPI) in 1992 (moving from Sydney) and both it and the city have thrived ever since’.
Local Labor MP Justine Elliot told The Echo that while she supports investment in regional NSW, it ‘needs to be transparent and without huge cost’.
‘The Nationals have done similar things with regional black spots for mobile phones and other regional projects’.