On 14 July 2023 the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator the Hon Murray Watt:
- released the Final Strategic Review Report of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) prepared by Clayton Utz
- announced the appointment of Ken Matthews AO to undertake a rapid evaluation of the findings of the Clayton Utz report and to provide advice on a range of issues including an assessment of the legal structure of the APVMA
- issued a Ministerial Direction under section 10 of the Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals (Administration) Act 1992, to the APVMA requiring the prioritisation of chemical reviews.
The APVMA Board and interim Executive accept the findings of the Final Strategic Review Report and Ministerial Direction and have undertaken to continue to work diligently towards addressing the findings of the review and act in accordance with the directive immediately.
The APVMA has advised the Minister of the steps it will take in responding to the Ministerial Direction. A copy of the Ministerial Direction and the APVMA’s response is available on our website.
A number of further decisions affecting the APVMA have also been made.
- The Board of the APVMA has accepted the resignation of the substantive Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the APVMA, Ms Lisa Croft.
- Minister Watt has accepted the resignation of the inaugural APVMA Board Chair, Dr Carrie Hillyard AM. Dr Hillyard has advised that stepping down to make way for new Board leadership is in the best interests of the APVMA, as the APVMA addresses the serious issues identified in the Final Strategic Review Report. The Board, and staff of the APVMA, express their deep appreciation to Dr Hillyard for her guidance and support.
- Dr Steven Jefferies AM has been appointed as the APVMA Acting Board Chair for the next 3 months while the government considers the appointment of a new Board Chair.
- As the APVMA begins the next stage of reform, the interim CEO, Ms Nicola Hinder PSM, will be returning to the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry on Monday 31 July after a short period of leave. The APVMA Board thanks Ms Hinder, who joined the agency at a challenging time, for leading staff through difficult issues while resolving complex regulatory and operational matters. Ms Hinder has exemplified the best qualities of the Australian Public Service. The Board, and staff of the APVMA, express their deep appreciation for her leadership.
- From Monday 24 July, the position of Acting CEO will be filled by Dr Melissa McEwen. Dr McEwen is a highly experienced, senior executive public servant with demonstrated success, across education, agriculture and environment. She comes to the APVMA from the EPA Transition Taskforce in the Department of Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Water where she has been leading the establishment of Environment Protection Australia.
Finally, the Board and interim CEO acknowledge that the findings of the Final Strategic Review conducted by Clayton Utz, reflect the APVMA as it was up until February 2023. Many matters reflected in the report are historical, and significant changes to the agency have been made by the Board and the interim Executive Leadership Team over recent months.
The strength of the APVMA is its staff – who demonstrate their commitment to Australia’s agvet chemical regulation system on a daily basis and consistently, diligently and professionally strive to deliver the APVMA’s regulatory responsibilities.
The Board and interim CEO express their deep appreciation to the staff of the APVMA and commit to working with them to make the reforms needed to sustain our long-held reputation as a world-class regulator.