Culture

Public Servants Are Working Out Of A Macca’s In Armidale, Thanks To Barnaby Joyce

Cheeseburgers, McFlurries and free wi-fi. What's not to like?

Some would call it the Australian dream.

It turns out a group of federal public servants are being forced to work out of a McDonald’s in the northern NSW town of Armidale after Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce kicked them out of their Canberra office. That’s right — in between their actual work staff at the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) are smashing Quarter Pounders and McFlurries, probably.

This is all because of an election promise Joyce made last year when he was fending off a challenge from former independent MP Tony Windsor. During last year’s election campaign, Joyce announced that the APVMA would relocate from Canberra to Armidale, which happens to be in his New England electorate. The move was opposed by CropLife Australia, the National Farmers’ Federation, Animal Medicines Australia, and plenty of other organisations concerned that it would lead to a huge loss of staff.

They were right. Since the announcement, the organisation has lost 48 staff who were unwilling to move. Another 60 staff are staying in Canberra and will work from home, but about a dozen executives have already moved to Armidale to set up the new HQ. The only problem is that none of the town’s buildings can fit the APVMA and a new office block will have to be constructed.

In the meantime, staff are bumming the free wi-fi at the local Macca’s.

Exclusive scenes from the new offices of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.

The agency’s boss told a Senate inquiry yesterday that the move was “proving challenging”.

“They either don’t want to move to Armidale and they have decided to look for something more permanent now, regardless of the incentives that we’re offering,” Kareena Arthy said. “Quite a lot of the people who have left have got young families and they want to make sure that they are able to keep their families in Canberra.”

It’s understandable that Canberra-based public servants aren’t that keen to pack up and move to Armidale just because Barnaby Joyce wants them too. Maybe they should have been told that the move would also include the opportunity to work out of a fast food restaurant, meaning endless cheeseburgers and incredibly shit coffee from McCafe?

As you might expect the Labor Party has already started trolling the government on the issue. One cheeky Labor staffer left some Macca’s takeaway in Parliament, just before the Nationals were due to do a press conference on the relocation.

What a waste of fries.

It’s not clear when a new office in Armidale will be built, so for the time being it seems like staff will have to keep working out of McDonald’s. Where do I sign up?