The deadline for an independent review of Australia’s agricultural and veterinary chemicals regulator has been extended, with the embattled government agency set to learn its fate in late October. It comes after a damning investigation of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority triggered by allegations a senior staffer urinated on his colleagues at a Christmas party. The Albanese Government appointed former public servant Ken Matthews to conduct a “rapid evaluation” of the APVMA’s structure and governance in the wake of the probe. Mr Matthews initially had until September 30 to submit his recommendations, but Federal Agriculture Minister Murray Watt this week revealed the deadline had been pushed back to October 27. “On Friday afternoon, I approved a request from Ken Matthews AO to extend the deadline for his independent evaluation of the APVMA,” Senator Watt said. “At my request, the APVMA board commissioned Mr Matthews to conduct a rapid evaluation into the operations of the APVMA following serious findings… of systemic problems with the administration and governance of the agricultural chemical regulator.” The investigation by law firm Clayton Utz also uncovered “serious and systemic issues” relating to workplace culture, including revelations numerous “personnel-related complaints” were made between 2019 and 2022 and referred to authorities for further investigation. “There are… a significant number of complaints that refer to serious impacts for the persons involved, including numerous instances of employees having to take periods of stress leave or feeling unable to attend work due to mental health concerns,” the report said. Complaints of misconduct were made by and about employees at all levels and ranged from allegations of nepotism to claims a senior staffer urinated on his colleagues at a 2021 staff Christmas party. The latter allegations surfaced during a Senate hearing last November, prompting a police investigation. APVMA chair Carmel Hillyard and chief executive Lisa Croft tendered their resignations in the days before the report’s release in mid-July this year.