The fight to convince AgResearch's board to rethink its
restructuring proposals will continue, despite confirmation of
its plans to downsize Invermay.
AgResearch announced it had concluded staff consultation
about its restructuring proposal and would continue with its
plans to relocate about 82 jobs from Invermay to
Christchurch, although not before 2016.
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull, part of a delegation protesting the
changes, said he was ''profoundly disappointed'' at the
outcome and the process, given AgResearch's board had not
wanted to meet and listen to the case southern leaders had
put together for retaining staff at Invermay, in particular
the genetics and deer research teams.
It appeared suspicions AgResearch had already made its
decision were justified, given the lack of change to the
proposal, he said.
However, the delegation was due to meet board representatives
on October 10 and would put its views ''loud and clear'', he
Whether they would listen was doubtful, given they appeared
to have ignored similar concerns from their staff, he said.
As AgResearch had now confirmed a proposal, he hoped Economic
and Development Minister Stephen Joyce would do what he
promised when he met the delegation and ''test'' the
Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead, also part
of the delegation, said he believed there was still time for
AgResearch to reconsider some of the proposals.
If it went ahead with them, it could struggle to meet the
requirements for agricultural science in New Zealand, he
''The more I learn ... the more I'm convinced the damage
they're going to do the genetic and deer team.''
He was concerned that if the restructure was pushed through,
there was a fair chance they could lose up to 70% of the
staff affected which would have a ''significant impact'' on
AgResearch as a whole.
Public Service Association national secretary Richard
Wagstaff said many staff believed AgResearch went into the
process with the proposal a done deal.
''We've heard from some of our members at Invermay that only
about 20% of the staff there would be willing to shift, while
others say rather than moving to Christchurch, they will head
Another delegation member, Pete Hodgson, a former Dunedin
North Labour MP and minister responsible for CRIs, said the
delegation needed to make sure those in the farming industry
realised the damage that could be done to the New Zealand
sheep industry if the proposals went ahead.
The ''hub'' of science from Invermay, the University of Otago
and several private sector companies had helped double
productivity in the sheep industry in past decades, he said.
Former Dunedin-based National list MP Katherine Rich, also
part of the delegation, said the region should not give up,
as there was a lot of time between now and 2016.
''There could be a completely different board by then.''
Environment Southland chairwoman Ali Timms said the minor
concessions made by adding two extra staff was
window-dressing and did not address serious concerns about
the consequence of the changes on sustainable land use in the
''It's simplistic to say these staff are available to come to
Otago or Southland, if needed. History tells us that
part-time attention yields part-time results.''
Otago Chamber of Commerce chairman Peter McIntyre said he
could not understand the rationale for the announcement.
While AgResearch chief executive Dr Tom Richardson talked of
being able to ''better deliver the science needed to
contribute to New Zealand's economic growth'', his decision
flew in the face of that.
Dunedin North MP Dr David Clark said the decision was bad for
New Zealand and bad for Dunedin.
''It is ripping up a functional hub ... it makes no sense.''
He urged people to write to Mr Joyce and the Otago Daily
Times expressing their frustration at the decision.
''This decision shows disdain for the experts, disdain of
local scientists and the people who wrote the report
outlining why the centre is so important.''