Otago community leaders have ''fair questions'' on
AgResearch's proposal to shift 85 jobs from Invermay, deputy
prime minister Bill English says.
A delegation of Otago community leaders met Mr English in
Balclutha yesterday, with Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull, Otago
Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead and Otago
Federated Farmers president Stephen Korteweg describing their
''positive discussion'' with Mr English on the future of the
North Taieri research campus.
''They're putting together a case which I think is going to
argue around whether this is the best position for science
... and they are fair questions to be asked,'' Mr English
told the Otago Daily Times.
Local body leaders seemed to want some answers on whether
shifting the agricultural research centre to Lincoln or
Palmerston North would be better. Farmers who used that
research also wanted to have a say, Mr English said.
Mr Cull said the trio offered Mr English the courtesy of
being kept in the loop, and would now focus on creating a
Mr Korteweg said he was worried about getting the best
outcome for the region.
''We'd love to get a win-win.''
He was ''semi-involved'' in the campaign, representing 900
farmers in the region who did not want the assets of
AgResearch at Invermay sacrificed.
''We don't want them shifting the problem from one place to
As a Government minister, Mr English had ''national
significance'' as well as in his roles as Clutha-Southland MP
and deputy prime minister, Mr Cull said.
Mr Woodhead agreed, saying the meeting was a chance to update
Mr English and was ''helpful'' for both parties.
Earlier this week, former Dunedin MPs Pete Hodgson and
Katherine Rich joined the working party finalising a
counter-proposal for Invermay to be presented to the
AgResearch board and Economic Development Minister Steven
The working party's final proposal would not be presented to
the AgResearch board until late next month, and to Mr Joyce
some time after that, Mr Cull said.
It would be based on input from more than 50 delegates from
organisations across the lower South Island gathered at a
summit held in Dunedin earlier this month.
Mr Cull said the counter-proposal being prepared would show
AgResearch's plan was ''strategically damaging both to the
region and the national economy''.