Shifting Invermay jobs north might be part of a wider
Government push, which is seeing the rest of the South Island
being ''cannibalised'' to support Christchurch, Dunedin Mayor
Dave Cull says.
Mr Cull's comments come after leaked documents revealed
AgResearch ignored its own change management team's (CMT)
recommendation to expand Invermay, as opposed to downsizing
Instead, AgResearch chose to stick with the ''core'' of its
''future footprint'' proposal, which means slashing about 82
jobs from Invermay and shifting animal productivity
scientists to Lincoln.
Both AgResearch and Minister of Science and Innovation Steven
Joyce disputed Mr Cull's comments, saying supporting the
Christchurch rebuild following the Canterbury quakes did not
come into the organisation's plans.
Mr Cull said the CMT report raised issues about both the
scientific and financial rationale of AgResearch's plans of
slashing Invermay jobs, which caused him to question its
''It leaves you wondering whether this is simply a way of
bolstering Lincoln [University] and [the Christchurch
''Lincoln is a struggling university. It's got very little
genetics capacity. You have really got to be very suspicious
about what the motivations for doing this are,'' he said.
The slashing of jobs at Invermay was part of a wider trend,
which had previously seen the loss of 73 jobs at Dunedin's
New Zealand Post mail centre, with jobs being moved to
''It appears that every time capacity is reduced somewhere in
the South Island, if it's going to go anywhere it all, it
seems to go to Christchurch.
''It almost seems as if the rest of the South Island is being
cannibalised to support Christchurch,'' Mr Cull said.
This went against the lesson learned from the Christchurch
earthquakes, that it was important to spread capacity across
''You should distribute your capacity ... so that if there is
an earthquake [or another natural disaster] you are not
completely dependent for the whole island on one place.''
A spokesman for Mr Joyce said AgResearch's plan was made by
its board of directors in consultation with farming
stakeholders and was ''completely unrelated to the Canterbury
earthquakes and rebuild''.
''There is absolutely no truth to Mr Cull's suggestion that
it is being done to bolster Lincoln University or the
Asked whether Mr Joyce was concerned the CMT report
recommendations had been ignored by AgResearch, the spokesman
said: ''The minister hasn't seen the specific CMT report, but
was aware of the change process and engagement with
AgResearch staff that was being undertaken by AgResearch's
board and management.''
He reiterated that Mr Joyce would ''thoroughly test
AgResearch's process, but final decisions are a matter for
''The minister has assisted in arranging meetings with Mr
Cull and AgResearch and he would encourage Mr Cull to take up
his concerns directly with AgResearch at his upcoming meeting
AgResearch chief executive Andrew McSweeney said its
motivation was to determine the ''best structure, locations
and people capability to enhance agricultural science support
and outcomes for New Zealand''.
Lincoln and Palmerston North had the ''key ingredients
required to build successful agriculture innovation hubs'',
Mr McSweeney said.
''These include the presence of significant,
agriculture-focused tertiary institutions, large research
organisations with significant capability, and industry
bodies and private sector companies who are all keen to
develop and grow these hubs further.
''No other considerations were taken into account.''
Mr McSweeney was also keen to point out the CMT was not a
senior management body, as had been ''inferred'' by some who
commented on its leaked report.
It was formed during the consultation process to summarise
the feedback from staff who made submissions, and then
disbanded, he said.
He also noted that of 245 total staff submissions, 21 related