Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce discusses
AgResearch's restructuring during a visit to Dunedin
yesterday. Photo by Stephen Jaquiery.
Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce believes
opportunities were lost to strengthen research links between
AgResearch's Invermay centre and the University of Otago.
During a visit to Dunedin yesterday, Mr Joyce said there had
been plans for more co-operation between the two when the new
Christie building was constructed at Invermay in 2008. But
they were not put into action.
Regardless of what happened with AgResearch's restructuring,
including the impact on Invermay, he believed the university
remained the ''absolute centre'' of research and development
Mr Joyce told the Otago Daily Times he was still
asking questions of AgResearch as it continued to work on its
That configuration - which included the impact on Invermay -
was still being ''thoroughly tested'' and the Crown Research
Institute was doing more work on it.
He pointed out that implementation of the plan, which
involved concentrating research and administration in
Palmerston North and Lincoln, was still a couple of years
''We're testing it pretty thoroughly and looking for other
options,'' he said.
Asked whether that might mean the decisions affecting
Invermay could be reversed, he said he did not want to create
Mr Joyce believed AgResearch had ''probably underestimated''
the level of feedback in Dunedin following the announcement.
He understood the feeling but said there were some
''fantastic, positive stories'' coming out of Dunedin in
terms of business growth and investment and it was ''always
important to have a balanced view where things are at''.
In every region of the country, events were happening that
involved jobs going and events that involved jobs coming.
While not referring to Invermay in particular, Mr Joyce, who
is also Economic Development Minister, said industries and
''We can't keep everything in place the way it always was. It
just evolves with technology. Otago has great new investments
and needs to celebrate those,'' he said.
The Government yesterday released its Regional Government
Expenditure Report, jointly commissioned by Treasury and the
Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
The report to June 30, 2012, provides estimates of central
government spending in New Zealand's 16 regions. Using the
expenditure method, the Government spent $78,020 million,
with Otago receiving $3603 million of that figure.
The report covered all government expenditure, from building
roads and hospitals, to social welfare payments, education
and research and development.
Labour leader and regional development spokesman David
Cunliffe, who was also in Dunedin yesterday, said there
should still be time to influence AgResearch's plan to
downgrade Invermay if Labour was elected next year.
Under the proposed timeframe, it appeared there would ''still
be time to have a fresh look'' at the proposal that could see
about 80 jobs transferred from Dunedin to Lincoln, Mr
''We have to get the right balance between being respectful
of the governance of [AgResearch] and making very clear our
view that the balance sheet of the [Crown Research Institute]
is not the only thing that matters here; it's also the
balance sheet of the region.''
On one level, AgResearch was able to make the changes, but it
needed to consider the likelihood of losing highly skilled
staff, the wasted infrastructure investment at Invermay, and
the increased distance from its industry client base.