Every five years, the census data gives us a snapshot of our communities right across Australia—the people that live in these communities, the success that they're having and the challenges that they're facing and that, as a result, we as policymakers face.
In the ACT we have faced many challenges since the last census. None were bigger than the sustained attack on our public service by the Turnbull government. In a city where the public service makes up nearly a third of our workforce, it's concerning to see that the census data revealed that the number of Canberrans working in this area dropped by nearly two percentage points, and the number of Australians working in the public service fell to a decade low. What a great achievement! The number of Australians working in the public service is now at a decade low.
In direct correlation with the cuts to the Public Service by the Abbott and Turnbull governments, we've seen a cut of 15,000 jobs in Canberra's public service—15,000. This reminds me of 1996, when the Howard government was in, and the Howard government got rid of 30,000 public servants right across the country and 15,000 here in the ACT. The 15,000 in this recent round of cuts are on top of significant cuts to our national institutions. They haven't been cutting into fat. They haven't been cutting into bone. What we're seeing is them cutting into the vital organs of our national institutions.
Nothing can better exemplify the sustained attacks on Canberra than the train wreck that is the forced relocation of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority to the Deputy Prime Minister's electorate. This is a blatant and shameless pork barrel. The APVMA website says that it has a clearly defined role as the regulator of agricultural and veterinary chemicals in Australia. But, as a result of this government's ridiculous cuts and this ridiculous relocation, the APVMA is still very far away from where it needs to be on that front. Close to half its work remains unfinished by agency deadlines and it's approving only a third of crop protection products within time frames ahead of the proposed relocation. This is having a significant impact on the agricultural industry. CropLife has 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.
The House's Select Committee on Regional Development and Decentralisation is looking into the best-practice approaches to regional development, the decentralisation of government entities and supporting corporate decentralisation. The decentralisation of the APVMA is the perfect example of what not to do.