Barnaby’s BBQ robots “get on with the job” of quitting

Via The Guardian:

The head of the pesticides authority being forcibly relocated to Barnaby Joyce’s electorate has resigned.

Kareena Arthy, the chief executive of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority, informed the deputy prime minister of her decision on Thursday afternoon.

It leaves the APVMA bereft of leadership in a tumultuous time for the agency, with 20 of 100 regulatory scientists having already abandoned the agency in recent months. A spokeswoman for the APVMA said she could not comment.

It comes days after the Turnbull government’s surprise announcement that it wants to decentralise as many government departments as possible, moving the positions of city-based public servants to Australia’s regions in a dramatic reshaping of the bureaucracy.

Hoocoodanode following this gem:

A federal government agency has handed its public servants scripted lines, to be recited in “BBQ conversations” and other “social settings”, about its controversial move out of town.

Workers at the pesticides authority have been given a long list of “talking points” to use on friends or family asking about the authority’s forced relocation from Canberra to Armidale in the heart of the electorate of Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce.

“We want you to feel confident when you answer questions about the relocation and we encourage you to keep talking to the people you love and trust about the relocation.”

…”(I’m not sure if I’ll relocate to Armidale:) For the moment, I’m getting on with the job and considering the information on the transition as its provided,” The talking points read.

“(I won’t be relocating to Armidale.) For the moment, I’m getting on with the job and considering the information on the transition as its provided.

“(I’m pretty sure I’ll be relocating to Armidale)  I’m listening to what our executive have to say about the transition, but for the moment I’m getting on with the job.”

It’s a very weird government full of very weird people.


  1. No argument that Barnaby and in fact 99% of the MPs in Canberra are complete [email protected]#KING tools and that BBQ script is beyond bizare, BUT the idea behind decentralisation is a good one.

    We need to get past the idea that there is no life in this country outside 4 or 5 capital cities. Public servants in many departments are paid quite well from the public purse and having some of those incomes earned and spent in our regional centres is equitable.

    • “We need to get past the idea that there is no life in this country outside 4 or 5 capital cities. “.

      Not quite right. We need to bring about the situation where there IS life outside the 4 or 5 capital cities. It’s hardly the case yet (if you want your children to go to school and to be able to visit a doctor, etc).

      • HadronCollision

        This is literally the silliest thing I’ve read today.

        Lol, there are no schools and Drs outside 4-5 cities.

        Keep em coming Peachy. It’s rolled gold champagne comedy

    • Great.
      But getting highly qualified people to move somewhere they don’t want to go isn’t going to be easy.
      In Arthy’s case its worth noting that she is on a 5 year contract that will expire next year – why would she relocate only to relocate somewhere else within a few months?
      It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Barnaby went into this believing his bargaining power with the people he is trying to move was way in excess of what it actually is. If he’s the kind of boss who says to people ‘If you don’t want to do it, your replacement will’, he needs to be comfortable with the response being ‘Great, see you later then’.

    • In general there is no life outside of the 4/5 capitals, the people have spoken by dint of where they chose to live. Forcing PS to move isn’t quite fair.

      • HC,

        As per what people view a modern city offers: restaurants, cinemas, good schools, outdoor activities etc. I don’t agree with that, but you talk to most people in the cities and that’s what you’ll hear, also from a large % of people out in the country who are originally from the city. I spent a decade across the top end of Australia: Kimberly’s, Gove & Darwin with time in Alice; Bamaga, Cape York.

    • Urbanisation is a global phenomenon. You wont reverse it by ‘creating’ jobs in the country. Chairman Mao threw literally millions of city dwellers towards the country, and they all came back to the coastal cities.

      The period of centralisation was (as I understand it) quite brutal on a number of departments. They lost a lot of staff, had to pay a lot of money to try and attract & retain talent. Canberra is still referred to as a ‘boring city’, the young still want to go to Sydney or Melbourne. Canberra is not big enough to attract the kinds of events and entertainment that a place like Sydney can. (And Sydney raised kids want to go to LA and NYC). Canberra IS regional, and its surrounded by lots of regionals (Yass, Goulbourn etc). My family come from country NSW, and the ANU is the destination for a lot of my more talented cousins.

      Decentralisation wont just be a painful adjustment period- it’ll break the bank. It would be no different than hiring people in regional areas to dig holes and fill them again. You wont get much productivity, you’ll lose all bargaining power, you’ll add a lot of overheads. And then you’ll need to hire more people in Canberra to do the work that got sent to the regions.

      The cost of the National’s plan is obscene. Obfuscated and delayed, but if you could see it it would be obscene. HR and Training costs through the roof. Building lease and management costs, salaries, the lot.

  2. what are you talking about? are you saying there are no schools and hospitals in regional australian towns?

    • kiwikarynMEMBER

      Their kids can all go to the local public school and mingle with the kids of the all the local unemployed meth heads. Will make for interesting play dates and sleep overs.

    • why would there need to be as many? there are fewer people, so fewer hospitals are needed.

      [citation needed] that the quality is somehow lower.

    • Do you live in a regional town? Let me ask you how often you’ve heard this phrase:

      “S/he had to be sent to the hospital/for surgery in Sydney/Melbourne”

      Regional towns have hospitals, but they’re rather short on specialists.

  3. All looking forward to lucrative private consultant gigs in the same departments they quit from.

  4. “A federal government agency has handed its public servants scripted lines, to be recited in “BBQ conversations” and other “social settings”, about its controversial move out of town.”

    You could not make this shit up.


    A NEW drift analysis of a wing part from a Boeing 777 has confirmed the most probable location of missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 is within the proposed new 25,000 sq km search area recommended by international experts.

    You know they could send those public servants out to this remote location to search for the plane.
    Then they may actually be useful.

    Stupid politicians, cant believe they wont pay to resume this search.
    We should foot the bill now, then deduct china and Malaysia share from any trade we do with them.

    • Ronin8317MEMBER

      China would probably pay if we manage to find it. Malaysia on the other hand will pay to not have it found..

  6. Lol it’s always leftists saying herr derr gotta decentralise so as not to have to address our high immigration levels. As long as it’s not them that gotta go! Should be more of it.

  7. The forever abused public service is copping it once more. There is a lot of logic in co-locating public servants in the one place. For one thing, few people stay in the one position any more for decades that used to be the case. So forcing Public servants to do a stint in Armidale is just stupid.
    Also it a lot harder to relocate people in the modern era of double income households. It is very hard to move if the other half still has a job in Canberra.

    • Yep, good points.

      People need to decide: do they think a government agency is:

      a) there to do the best job possible to serve the Australian public interest and its elected representatives (whatever you might think of them)
      b) there to prop up the economy of a regional town, even if it means it no longer gets the best staff or does the best job.

      • alterbrainMEMBER

        Exactly so @Arrow2. Barnaby can’t understand why companies pay the SYD rents when they can move to Armidale. It’s the network effect. If we think of a major financial institution moving to Armidale we can instantly see that is ridiculous. Canberra has its own network effect… if you see Government as an important part of the economy. Today people can take a management position in, say Border Protection and then move to Education without automatic divorce, or uprooting their children, taking a property loss, paying stamp duty every move, losing their friends. Then we ask, how many local people in Armidale are qualified scientists just waiting to advise on Veterinary Medicine and queuing up? If they are that qualified, they don’t live in Armidale any more. Then what happens to locally employed staff when the Agency moves back to Canberra? Because it is a very expensive model to run a totally distributed government.

        It’s time to decide that Government is important. Run it as if it is important and services matter. Every business I’ve known that loses focus and thinks it is there to do other things (support the idiot, unemployable Brother in Law for example) no longer exists.

    • I think that forcing people to move can only backfire, and if Joyce wants the agency there, he needs to accept a longer time frame, possibly looking at reorganising the department in some way. And yes, the spouse thing is going to mean that for many, finding one new job somewhere else in public service looks easier than finding a new job, a new school, a new house and a new circle of friends and acquaintances etc.
      That said, the regional centre of a livestock grazing area doesn’t seem a completely crazy place to put a government Veterinary department. If he can’t make this department moving to a regional centre work, it’s only going to be tougher with others.

    • If I was cynical and I wanted to downsize the public service, making people resign by moving their jobs rather than paying them redundancies would be the way.

      • ErmingtonPlumbingMEMBER

        Yes, this.
        Lazy but cost effective, public servant bashing , Virtue Signalling.

      • You would think that…but public servants have enterprise agreements. As the ATO discovered, a number of these agreements state the address at which the public servant works. Even if it didn’t, relocating the main office to a different region would trigger redundancy payments anyway. I worked for a private company that moved its office to Melbourne. You bet they had to pay.

        Otherwise you would never have to pay redundancy. Just move the job to Alice Springs, or change its hours to be 0100-0900. Those kinds of shenanigans havent worked in Australia or the US for quite some time.

    • In the US they solve this problem by making the state capital different from the largest city (Albany, Sacramento, Montpelier, etc.). I guess I personally feel that jobs should go to places nearer the coast, where a good supply of fresh water is available. if the department were moved to Coffs Harbour instead of Armidale, there might be a bit more enthusiasm. Having a fast train from Sydney to Brisbane would also change the equation considerably.

      • Didn’t ATO or someone move to Gosford? And it wasnt popular?

        Keep in mind, a lot of households these days are dual income. Moving 1 partner’s job presents issues if the other partner can’t also get a job (in advance). Imagine losing 50% household income on the penstroke of a minister.

      • Fekname – the thing is that 2-income households are also common in the U.S. and in Continental Europe. Yet, those places somehow provide highly skilled jobs outside of major cities. Is there something about Australia which makes it different from those other places? (high speed rail, for instance?)

  8. This actually represents a tremendous opportunity, if you look at it the right way

    No longer will the need to have bullshit like “knowledge”, “qualifications” or “experience” mean a thing when seeking to latch on to the public teat for those of us unwilling to be politicians, we must simply put our hands up and say we’re prepared to move to the sticks and do poisoning for Barnaby and voila, you get those mad fat commonwealth stacks of cash. I’d be down like a clown in a dressing gown for that deal

  9. I wonder how soon the industry will be allowed to self regulate with the reduced workforce.. or rubber stamps ahoy and boom times. Odds for a directorship position in the related industry for a few politicians…?

  10. reusachtigeMEMBER

    If I was a pubic servant I wouldn’t want to be getting moved out to where the uglies live either. Lesson here, working for government is a bit of a losers way to make a living. Only a certain type of person can work out how to profit from being in government but they usually don’t end up there anyway.

    • As someone who was born in a country town i totally agree with you that is where the ugly people are.
      As an ugly person i am in a constant state of despair about ever owning property.
      There are times i have looked in a mirror and punched out in reflex thinking im being attacked by a deranged monkey animal.

  11. People don’t want to move from friends and family unless there is an overwhelming reason, so 457s to fill all these positions

  12. I would have thought altering the tax rate based on where you live/work would promote people and businesses to move accordingly

  13. If only they hadn’t completely stuffed up the NBN. Remote work, especially in tech, would have many people willing to relocate to somewhere cheaper and more livable.

    Unfortunately, it won’t work with crappy internet.