Sun. Jun 16th, 2024

The CEO of an Armidale-based public service agency has taken extended leave and has been replaced by an executive from the Department of Agriculture while an independent review of the organisation is completed.

Federal Agricultural Minister Murray Watt’s office has today confirmed to the New England Times that Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicine Authority (APVMA) chief executive Lisa Croft has taken leave.

Ms Croft, an experienced public servant and Inverell local, was appointed Chief Executive Officer of the APVMA in October 2020. Previously, she had worked in senior positions at the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs, and had worked in areas of grant and project management as well as stakeholder engagement and policy design. 

An APVMA spokesperson said “The APVMA can confirm that Ms Nicola Hinder has been appointed interim CEO of the APVMA.”

Nicola Hinder is a Deputy Secretary for the Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Trade Group. She describes herself on LinkedIn as “a proud Australian public servant with deep experience in agriculture trade, technical market access negotiations, international and multilateral negotiations and policy development, export and import regulatory operations, service delivery and biosecurity.”

The news follows from Friday’s announcement that Minister Watt had passed on the preliminary report into culture at the agency to “the appropriate authorities”. The agency had initiated its own internal culture review prior to the Minister ordering an independent review. 

The review follows a series of allegations, including an alleged “urination incident” into the cultural atmosphere of the agency since it was moved to Armidale from Canberra as one of then Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce’s election promises. The allegation, as well as allegations of sexual harassment, were raised by Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson.

Ms Croft denied in a staff meeting last year that anyone was urinated on, or that there were any complaints of sexual harassment. The urination incident referred to is believed to involve a former C-suite executive urinating on a couch at a subordinate’s house during a private party. 

Top image: Lisa Croft, left, and interim APVMA CEO Nicola Hinder

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