It’s been a tough run for the national pesticides authority, plagued with poor performance and record staff resignations as its move from Canberra to Armidale looms.
But the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority have finally caught a break, reporting its first improvements in a year with on-time crop application approvals.
The agency settled more than 1000 actives, products and permits applications in the September quarter, almost double the usual amount.
“We’ve experienced a particularly productive quarter and it’s promising to see applications moving through assessment and products making their way to market,” APVMA CEO Dr Chris Parker said.
“Timeframe performance held steady on the previous quarter at 58 per cent, which means more than 500 applications were finalised on time.”
Dr Parker recently announced an independent review of the agency’s operational performance, to identify underlying causes for assessment delays which had been plaguing the agency for a number of years.
A spokesperson for Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce told Fairfax Media the independent Australian National Audit Office review found the current model “severely lacking with reforms to cut red tape yet to be implemented”.
Dr Parker said timeliness was one indicator of quality regulation and this quarter it’s looking positive.
“Our work in progress is also tracking well with 74 per cent of applications currently in assessment still within timeframe,” he said.
“These results are a step in the right direction and it’s important that we continue to build more resilience and predictability into our operations.”
Agricultural chemical industry peak body CropLife chief executive Matthew Cossey said it welcomed the improvements “simply because the numbers are at least finally heading in the right direction”.
“The latest performance statistics indicate that practical efforts by APVMA management and staff have helped start the recovery process for timeliness of crop protection product registrations, however there is still a long way to go to reach what could be considered acceptable performance,” he said.
Significant improvement was required to achieve similar performance to last year, Mr Cossey said.
The APVMA’s continuous failure to meet its statutory obligated timeframes is unacceptable and comes at a massive cost to the plant science industry and the nation's farming sector.Matthew Cossey
“The APVMA’s continuous failure to meet its statutory obligated timeframes is unacceptable and comes at a massive cost to the plant science industry and the nation’s farming sector.”