Mon. May 27th, 2024

Police will be brought into investigate the behaviour of staff at an Armidale-based federal government agency following claims a staff member was urinated on.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Murray Watt has referred a preliminary report of an investigation into the culture at the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) to “the appropriate authorities for further investigation” today.

Minister Watt ordered the review after allegations were first made known in a Senate hearing in November 2022, including an alleged incident where a male senior executive urinated on a female subordinate colleague. 

The accused staff member resigned before the allegation was made in the Senate.

“On Wednesday this week, I received the interim report of the review, which contains additional serious allegations of misconduct concerning the APVMA, including potential breaches of the public service code of conduct and other potential breaches of the law,” Minister Watt said in a statement today.

“I have also met with the APVMA Board Chair to discuss additional measures and to ensure the APVMA’s staff are supported through this process.”

A spokesperson for the agency said “the APVMA has no comment to make at this time”.

APVMA chief executive Lisa Croft has previously stated that the alleged incident didn’t occur, as claimed by Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, at the staff Christmas party, but that she was “aware of an incident that occurred in a private capacity”, and that no official complaint was made. 

This follows allegations from last December that at least two executives had their positions terminated last year after they submitted complaints of harassment and bullying.

The beleaguered agency has been plagued with staffing issues ever since Barnaby Joyce moved the authority from Canberra to his own electorate, as part of an election promise to decentralise some federal entities out of the capital. 

Minister Watt has declined to make any further comment on the matter as they are “now the subject of investigation”. 

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