APVMA resignations causing ‘significant pressures’ on remaining staff

An unexpected surge in staff resignations at the national pesticides authority is putting “significant pressures” on those remaining ahead of its forced move to Armidale.
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The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority predicts its approvals of new products will slow during the relocation, when more staff are expected to leave, others prepare the agency for the move, and new recruits are trained.

“The APVMA is experiencing higher than expected staff departures,” it said.

Twenty regulatory scientists and an additional 28 staff members, with 204 years’ service between them, left the agency between July and February.

The APVMA told a Senate inquiry into the relocation, a signature policy of Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, a list of risks related to the move included the potential to make “inappropriate decisions” resulting in “significant harm, loss or liability”.

Staff wellbeing, financial sustainability and its ability to deliver on obligations under government legislation were also potentially at risk.

“The pressures on staff resulting from staff departures is also significant,” the APVMA told the Senate committee.

Unfinished assessments, covering new products and permits, grew by 150 to 1,300 at the end of December compared to the same month in 2015, and the number of overdue applications also climbed.

The APVMA is looking at graduate programs, employment agencies, digital connection of remote employees, and contractors to fill gaps expected after the relocation.

New recruits had signalled they were willing to relocate to the northern NSW town, the APVMA said.

It’s drawing on a pool of 200 applicants from a recruitment round late last year to fill multiple vacancies across the agency.

When Mr Joyce wrote to APVMA chief executive Kareena Arthy flagging the move in 2015, she replied she was unable to support the proposal at that time “due to the magnitude of expected losses of expertise and experience”, the agency told the Senate inquiry.

A spokesman for Mr Joyce said the agency was failing to meet recommended processing timeframes from Canberra.

“Why would anyone fight to preserve a model that currently isn’t meeting required legislated timeframes?”, he said.

Staff surveys in 2015 and 2016 showed less than 10 scientists were willing to uproot from Canberra to Armidale.

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Comment: Why Giants should lose rich recruiting zone

The AFL Commission will surely end months of procrastination over the next 24 hours and finally correct the flawed favouritism it bestowed upon its youngest club by handing it a virtual Australian rules grass-roots recruiting zone.
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The border town of Albury and its immediate Murray River surrounds can no longer be considered a NSW development academy for Greater Western Sydney despite that club’s valiant attempts to retain it.

This is not alone a case of rival club sour grapes over Albury’s Caulfield Grammar protege Will Setterfield, the Giants soon-to-be-unveiled No.5 national draft pick, nor his near neighbour and next year’s high draft prospect Charlie Spargo, who boards at Melbourne Grammar.

The breakdown of where players were drafted from last year

Because in this instance the clubs have every right to their disenchantment when a virtual Victorian region with a TAC club down the road is double-handed as a development academy. Albury, not the entire Riverina, is the issue. And it muddies the water for every other northern club working to pioneer the national code in foreign territory. Not to mention yet again raising the question of the maligned and henpecked father-son rule.

This is not the so-called football battle ground of Sydney’s west we are talking about. And despite the success of the GWS academy – which produced seven drafted players (plus three rookies) compared with three home-grown South Australians – no player apart from Israel Folau has yet come to the club from that true west battleground.

And the commission should say no to the Giants’ compromise solution, which has already been rejected by virtually every other club in the competition.

That compromise would see Sydney, which has drafted just three top 20 players over 16 years from its heavily staffed and funded NSW academy, forced to potentially sacrifice local talent altogether should it finish in the top four or even the top eight.

The AFL has a strange relationship with its youngest club. The Giants are flourishing and on every measure have outperformed the Gold Coast, albeit after the competition relaxed its list-establishment rules for GWS. The Giants strongly reject any suggestion of a master-servant relationship with head office and have in recent times successfully taken on the AFL.

And head office resents the suggestion it has buckled under pressure from its 18th club. But that’s what it did when club chief – and former senior AFL executive – David Matthews refused to deal with Gillon McLachlan on the Lachie Whitfield penalties and ultimately achieved a small but significant victory.

If there is a pattern in both battles it is that the AFL has taken too long to act. No amount of defence from the league can justify why it took so long to move on Whitfield given it had received advice on the case several months before it became public.

And the academy debate has waged through all of last season and should have been ruled upon around the time of the draft. Jarrod Brander, another key-position draft prospect, has been the subject of an AFL investigation over his dual home addresses of Wentworth and Mildura since last July and still the league has failed to reach a verdict.

Brander and Spargo, who the club insists is determined to become a Giant, have started their year 12 studies still in the dark about their football futures and in less than a fortnight will line up for their GWS Academy in the under-18 championships. Or not, depending on the AFL verdict.

If as expected the boundaries are redrawn the Giants will request a stay of execution until after the 2017 draft and probably have a case given the AFL delays. All of which will further enrage their opponents given the talent at stake. Either way there will be disenchantment.

The so-called influential Victorian bloc can be whingers at times and the Swans are occasionally guilty of an over-inflated sense of entitlement but on this issue they have the backing of the Brisbane Lions and the Gold Coast along with all four of the West and South Australian clubs. The time for murky compromises has passed when one clear and decisive act will solve the problem.

It is simply not right to hand what is essentially a grass-roots region on the Victorian border to one club simply because the town sits on the NSW side.

GWS, as ever, have fought the good fight but in this case the club looks certain to lose and so should it. However, this is a call the AFL should have made long ago.

2016 National Draft – 77 players chosen

Victoria – 44

Western Australia – 12

NSW – 9

(Seven from GWS academy zone, including the Riverina: Will Setterfield, Harry Perryman, Isaac Cumming, Lachie Tiziani, Kobe Much to Essendon, Harrison Macreadie to Carlton, Ryan Garwaite to Richmond *)

Queensland – 6

(Give from Gold Coast and Brisbane Lions academy zones: Jack Bowes and Brad Scheer to Gold Coast, Declan Watson and Josh Williams to Nth Melb, Jacob Allison to Brisbane Lions)

South Australia – 3

Northern Territory – 3

Tasmania – 0

* Plus rookies Zach Sproule (to Giants), Sam Fisher (to Sydney) and Max Lynch (to Collingwood)

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Wagga leaders back Scobie Breasley statue

The plaque dedicating the Scobie Breasley mounting yard at the Wagga racetrack.
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A CALL for the great jockey Scobie Breasley to be be immortalised in his home town in the form of a statue looks like a winner with community and sporting leaders.

Highly-respected cricket coach Warren Smith this week called for a statue of Breasley, who died in 2006, to be erected in Bolton Park.

“He’s the most successful sportsman to ever come from Wagga,” Mr Smith said.

Breasley rode five Caulfield Cup winners and tallied two English Derbies and a Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe among his 3251 wins.

Member for Riverina, Michael McCormack, was the last journalist tointerview Breasley, in 2001.

“He said to me: ‘You’re from Wagga, you must be okay’,” Mr McCormack said.

Mr McCormack said he supported the statue idea.

“When I was on the MTC (Murrumbidgee Turf Club) committee with Barney Hymes we talked informally about it,” Mr McCormack said.

“I think it should be at the MTC, Scobie rode there a few times at cup carnivals.”

Mr McCormack also bought into the debate whether Breasley was Wagga’s greatest sportsperson.

“That is a question and half,” Mr McCormack said.

“As a sportsman on the international stage he probably was.”

Mayor Greg Conkey also thinks the statue idea is a winner, but believes it should be placed in a more publicly accessible location.

“Because of his profile, I think it would be better placed in a more central location than the MTC,” Councillor Conkey said.

“I think Bolton Park is an ideal spot, or somewhere along the main street even.

“We already have some statues down the main street.

“It’s a place where everyone can enjoy it.

“The MTC is fine, but I think a more prominent spot would be better suited.”

As for funding, Cr Conkey is open to the idea of it being paid for out of council’s public art fund, but said it was something that needed to be considered by the community.

MTC chief executive, Scott Sanbrook, said the Wagga racetrack’s mounting yard was named in honour ofScobie Breasley in April, 2013, but he thought his organisation would consider hosting a statue if the idea had the support of the city.

“It would be a terrific way to honour such a wonderful Wagga ambassador,” Mr Sanbrook said.

Scobie Breasley was inducted into the Wagga Sporting Hall of Fame in 1998.

He was born in Wagga in 1914 and left the city as a 14-year-old to ride as an apprentice in Melbourne.

Sadly, he did not ride a Melbourne Cup winner.

In 16 attempts the best he finished was second, in 1933 andin 1946.

He landed more than 2000 winners in England.

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‘I was the world’s most hated man’: Fifita

Andrew Fifita has opened up about how close he came to walking away from rugby league, describing himself as “the world’s most hated man” during his tumultuous premiership season.
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Fifita experienced the ultimate rollercoaster ride in 2016, controversially missing out on Clive Churchill medal honours and a Kangaroos call-up despite his grand final heroics. The Cronulla prop has long been a controversy magnet, but the fallout from his support of one-punch killer Kieran Loveridge prompted him to consider defecting to rugby.

At a time when his teammates were basking in the afterglow of the club’s maiden grand final victory, Fifita felt a reviled figure as his future was left in the hands of others.

“I was the world’s most hated man,” Fifita said. “But at the end of the day I walked away with a ring and a premiership to my name. That’s the main thing. We got through it. And as soon as the grand final happened, we got right away from the game, which was the best thing for my family and I.”

The NRL, in consultation with the police, took several months to determine a suitable punishment for Fifita. While in limbo, the 27-year-old gave serious consideration to walking away from rugby league altogether.

“Rugby is always there. I played rugby pretty much my whole life, except these last seven years where I’ve been in rugby league,” said Fifita, who is studying for a diploma in mental health with a view to helping others with off-field issues.

“It’s always an option. At the end of the day, you just wait for who will be the next guy in the headlines … I waited for it to pass me by.

“Things were thrown up and I was willing to take them, but then again, I really wanted the [World] Club Challenge, and the next year and the chance to go back-to-back.

“We’re reigning premiers and I really wanted to defend that. That was the main thing in my head, and that’s what I wanted the most.”

Fifita’s brother David, a former Sharks teammate, played a key role in convincing Fifita there was more to achieve in the NRL.

“David kept saying, ‘I want you to stick it out, you don’t play a game like that in the grand final and then come out of it and walk away from the game’,” Fifita said.

“It was a good game to walk away from because you absolutely killed it. In saying that you move forward.”

Asked if he fell out of love with the game, Fifita said: “Not really. I was in the same situation the year before.

“I felt down the year before because I put pressure on myself, I wasn’t able to play the last six games, and my first game back was a semi-final.

“To happen again like that, going into next year, I didn’t want to lose. It lifted my game to another level, playing with expectation.

“We got the job done.”

Fifita was banned from Australian selection for last year’s Four Nation campaign, but coach Mal Meninga has indicated he will be welcomed back to the fold should his form warrant selection.

“If we go back to where we were [at Cronulla] and if I keep playing footy how it is at the moment, the sky is the limit,” Fifita said.

“I really want to go back-to-back in both things – in winning a grand final and winning a World Cup.

“I was there in 2013, I know the feeling of what it is to win a World Cup.

“I want to be a world champion again and hopefully my footy can do the talking. I haven’t been talking to the media a lot lately, I just want to focus on my footy.

“I want to be back in those teams, that’s another goal of mine to be back there. I got the Origin one back and it’s just about good footy to keep it.”

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Wagga leaders back Scobie Breasley statue

The plaque dedicating the Scobie Breasley mounting yard at the Wagga racetrack.
Nanjing Night Net

A CALL for the great jockey Scobie Breasley to be be immortalised in his home town in the form of a statue looks like a winner with community and sporting leaders.

Highly-respected cricket coach Warren Smith this week called for a statue of Beasley, who died in 2006, to be erected in Bolton Park.

“He’s the most successful sportsman to ever come from Wagga,” Mr Smith said.

Beasley rode five Caulfield Cup winners and tallied two English Derbies and a Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe among his 3251 wins.

Member for Riverina, Michael McCormack, was the last journalist tointerview Beasley, in 2001.

“He said to me: ‘You’re from Wagga, you must be okay’,” Mr McCormack said.

Mr McCormack said he supported the statue idea.

“When I was on the MTC (Murrumbidgee Turf Club) committee with Barney Hymes we talked informally about it,” Mr McCormack said.

“I think it should be at the MTC, Scobie rode there a few times at cup carnivals.”

Mr McCormack also bought into the debate whether Beasley was Wagga’s greatest sportsperson.

“That is a question and half,” Mr McCormack said.

“As a sportsman on the international stage he probably was.”

Mayor Greg Conkey also thinks the statue idea is a winner, but believes it should be placed in a more publicly accessible location.

“Because of his profile, I think it would be better placed in a more central location than the MTC,” Councillor Conkey said.

“I think Bolton Park is an ideal spot, or somewhere along the main street even.

“We already have some statues down the main street.

“It’s a place where everyone can enjoy it.

“The MTC is fine, but I think a more prominent spot would be better suited.”

As for funding, Cr Conkey is open to the idea of it being paid for out of council’s public art fund, but said it was something that needed to be considered by the community.

MTC chief executive, Scott Sanbrook, said the Wagga racetrack’s mounting yard was named in honour ofScobie Breasley in April, 2013,, but he thought his organisation would consider hosting a statue if the idea had the support of the city.

“It would be a terrific way to honour such a wonderful Wagga ambassador,” Mr Sanbrook said.

Scobie Breasley was inducted into the Wagga Sporting Hall of Fame in 1998.

He was born in Wagga in 1914 and left the city as a 14-year-old to ride as an apprentice in Melbourne.

Sadly, he did not ride a Melbourne Cup winner.

In 16 attempts the best he finished was second, in 1933 andin 1946.

He landed more than 2000 winners in England.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.