FITZGIBBON TAKEN TO TASK OVER NEGATIVE COMMENTS ABOUT ARMIDALE

Thursday, 17 March 2016

LOCAL state MP Adam Marshall has challenged Federal opposition Agriculture spokesperson Joel Fitzgibbon to visit Armidale and explain why he thinks the city is not good enough to be the new home of the Australian Pesticides Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).

Mr Marshall was responding to comments made by Mr Fitzgibbon recently, which in his view “ran down” Armidale as a location capable to supporting the operations of the APVMA.

In a press conference in Canberra on 29 February, Mr Fitzgibbon suggested that the Federal Government would not find professionals capable of undertaking APVMA research work in Armidale.

He said:

“Barnaby Joyce will not secure new professionals capable of doing this (APVMA research) work in Armidale.” **

Mr Fitzgibbon also posited that Armidale wasn’t accessible for either staff of chemical companies needing to do business with the APVMA and that there might be on one flight per day to the city.

He said:

“The chemical companies simply won’t be able to efficiently access the APVMA in Armidale, that is going to slow down the processors.” **

“It (the APVMA) is accessible here in our national capital. It won’t be accessible in Armidale where there might be a flight a day, for example.” **

“We all realise it’s an election year and expect intensified argy bargy between government and opposition MPs, but Mr Fitzgibbon has no right trying to run down the Armidale community in an attempt to score political points,” Mr Marshall said.

“His criticism was not only cheap, but widely inaccurate and displayed a real lack of knowledge, or deliberate ignorance about the Armidale community and what is has to offer.

“Armidale is very easy to access – Mr Fitzgibbon would surely be aware that Armidale is the first and still the only fully NBN fibre connected city in mainland Australia and we have two airlines offering 16 flights daily between Armidale and Sydney.

“As for professionals, the University of New England, which has been central to our bid for the APVMA, already has some of the world’s leading experts and researchers in many agricultural fields.

“The community doesn’t appreciate being portrayed as some backward, one horse town, especially when the opposite is true.

“Armidale is a sophisticated, diverse and beautiful city with wonderful lifestyle, schooling and professional opportunities.

“I extend an invitation to Mr Fitzgibbon to visit Armidale anytime and explain to the community why he believes we’re not good enough to host the APVMA.

“I’m willing to wager that he would leave with a very different impression than the one he expressed from Canberra.”

Mr Marshall travelled to Canberra in June last year as part of a delegation from Armidale Dumaresq Council and the University of New England to meet with the APVMA.

“We made a presentation to around 100 APVMA management and staff members, introducing them to the city and surrounding district’s education facilities, recreational activities, lifestyle and real estate and job opportunities,” he said.

“The feedback was positive and this was reinforced when APVMA staff visited Armidale for a few days to see the opportunities first hand, something Mr Fitzgibbon hasn’t done.

“Mr Fitzgibbon is entitled to have his view about the future location of the APVMA, but our community won’t abide ignorance and ill-informed opinions which seek to run down a wonderful city with huge potential and capacity to host the APVMA.”

MEDIA: Adam Marshall 0429 440 054 or 02 6772 5552

** http://www.joelfitzgibbon.com/press_conference_transcript_29_february_2016

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