No public information about the restructuring of Invermay is
likely now before October 3, its finance and business
performance director, David Godwin, says.
In an email to the Otago Daily Times, Mr Godwin
responded to the newspaper's official information request for
details of the restructuring.
The Crown research institute is planning to shift 85 Invermay
jobs to either Christchurch or Palmerston North. More than
100 jobs from Ruakura, near Hamilton, face the same fate.
The ODT requested the reasons for the centralisation
of AgResearch in Christchurch and Palmerston North.
The final consultation with staff ends on Thursday but many
now believe the decision is a foregone conclusion, despite
the best efforts of the Dunedin City Council and other
community leaders to persuade Economic Development Minister
Steven Joyce to take an overall view of the good Invermay
research contributes to the overall economy.
While the Government has said it will leave the final
decision to the board, it does have the right to sack the
board. That suggests a level of influence.
Mr Godwin said the ODT request had been carefully
considered, along with similar requests from others.
''That has involved consultation with a number of senior
executives at AgResearch and careful review by a number of
AgResearch staff of information that might be of assistance
''As you might imagine, the degree of consultation required
to properly consider the requests and the information
involved has taken quite some time during a busy period.''
That had led to the decision to make a ''certain amount'' of
information available publicly, he said.
The intention was to make the information available on the
AgResearch website on October 3, which was soon after the
consultation process would be completed.
''Accordingly, AgResearch is, in part, withholding
information based on section 18(d) of the Official
Information Act, as it will be made publicly available,'' he
The Future Footprint Project had been operating for at least
two years and during that time AgResearch had accumulated a
significant volume of documentation that fitted within the
scope of the OIA request, Mr Godwin said.
Accordingly, AgResearch was also withholding information
because it could not be supplied without substantial
Citing several parts of the Act, Mr Godwin explained why it
was impossible to release the information before the decision
was made public on October 3.
However, he was ''happy'' to assist in determining a more
limited scope of the ODT's request. Dunedin mayoral and city
council candidate Pete George said the lack of transparency
from AgResearch was disgraceful.
''This makes it look like they don't think people will like
their plans and motives, or they don't have confidence in
what appears to be decisions already made.''
Pressure should be continued on AgResearch and as much as
possible should be done to try to save Invermay, he said.
''But I get the feeling this is yet another case of too
little, too late.''
One of the first priorities of the incoming council and mayor
had to be setting up a more effective working relationship
between local government and local MPs, alongside local
business, research and education organisations.
Dunedin and Otago needed to be far more proactive and become
far more aware of potential problems and opportunities.
''We can be far more effective getting in early and strongly.
The mayor and council can't keep waiting until it's too late
- or election time,'' Mr George said.