Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull has accused AgResearch of a
''disingenuous cover-up'', saying a letter it sent in April
gave the impression it planned to invest in Invermay, rather
than cut jobs.
Mr Cull yesterday stood by his comments, which he made at a
mayoral forum on Sunday night, but told the Otago Daily
Times he did not want to ''ramp this up'' on the eve of
today's discussions with Economic Development Minister Steven
Joyce, over the proposal to shift 85 jobs from Invermay.
Mr Cull's comments at the forum were referring to a letter
sent by AgResearch chief executive Tom Richardson in April,
saying $100 million was going to be invested in AgResearch
''It gave the distinct impression that that was going to be
at least partly at Invermay. It was a disingenuous cover-up.
''In fact, the decision may have been made, but that was not
what they were telling us, quite officially,'' Mr Cull said
at the forum.
An AgResearch spokeswoman yesterday provided a copy of the
April 29 letter, which does not refer to any investment at
In the letter, which was sent to more than 150 people,
including Mr Cull and council chief executive Paul Orders, Dr
Richardson also offered to answer any further questions
AgResearch declined to comment further on Mr Cull's remarks.
When spoken to yesterday, Mr Cull at first said using
''cover-up'' was probably a ''little strong'', but later in
the day stood by his choice of words.
He went on to say the comments were not directed at
''anything that AgResearch had said'' and were instead
directed at other mayoral candidates, who suggested he should
have known job cuts at Invermay were coming.
''What I intended to convey was the prior information that
was put out regarding their intentions did not give any
impression that they were gutting Invermay.''
He did not want the comments to raise tensions ahead of
''I'm not keen to ramp this up in the media in light of the
fact that I am about to have meetings with AgResearch and
with the minister.''
It was ''too early'' to say whether the delegation he was
leading to Wellington to talk to Mr Joyce today would be
However, he took heart from Prime Minister John Key's visit
''He didn't rule out the possibility that the Government
would step in if they were convinced that there were great
risks or that the reasoning behind the proposal didn't stack
AgResearch was also ''increasingly willing to engage'', which
suggested there was ''political will for a conversation'', Mr
A spokeswoman for Mr Key said in a statement: ''The Prime
Minister had a number of discussions around AgResearch's
plans while he was in Dunedin last week but did not make any
promises to step in.''
Mr Joyce had ''been taking a close interest in AgResearch's
plans'', the spokeswoman said.
''The Prime Minister would expect AgResearch to report back
to the minister on its final decision as part of that
process,'' she said.
''Any decision on the future of AgResearch is an operational
matter for the board. The Government has encouraged
AgResearch to ensure it listens to its key stakeholders and
staff during the consultation process,'' she said.