Wool industry heads have warned senators against any moves to relocate their offices from Sydney to a regional centre.
Senior executives at Australian Wool Innovation have been asked — and have declined — to make a submission to a Senate inquiry into relocations.
‘‘We don’t think that if we move to Bourke or somewhere we can conduct our marketing as well as we can in Sydney,’’ chairman Walter Merriman told a Senate estimates hearing in Canberra last Tuesday. ‘‘You just cannot promote yourself in a tin shed at Dubbo or somewhere else.’’
Mr Merriman met with Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce about eight months ago and made it clear the company did not want to move.
AWI chief executive Stuart McCullough said shifting offices from The Rocks would have a ‘‘profound’’ impact on staffing levels.
The company recently downsized its Sydney digs, signing a seven-year lease and slashing its monthly rental costs by 35 per cent (from about $80000 to $50000) by shifting from an A-class to a B-class building.
About 60 per cent of its overall budget is pumped into marketing, with the remaining 40 per cent spent on research and development.
The hot button political issue of relocations reared its head again when dairy leaders took their seats at the table.
Dairy Australia has not been asked to vacate its Melbourne headquarters in favour of the regions, and has no intention of moving.
The vast majority of its 70-strong staff are based in Melbourne, with a handful dotted around the country.
‘‘We do have a strong presence in the bush and it continues to grow ... we see this hub-and-spoke-model as very important,’’ chairman Geoff Akers told senators.
He stressed the importance of being close to large research centres, including a whopping science facility in Melbourne.
Labor’s Senator Greg Sterle joked about moving the scientists to Armidale in NSW, referring to the forced relocation of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority from Canberra to Mr Joyce’s regional electorate.