AgResearch acting chief executive Andrew McSweeney (right)
and Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull respond to questions at a press
conference after taking part in a meeting in Dunedin
yesterday. Photo by Gerard O'Brien.
Those fighting to save jobs at Invermay believe their
efforts are causing some on the AgResearch board to doubt the
wisdom of the restructuring plan.
This comes after the delegation, made up of representatives
from local government, the University of Otago and the
private farming sector, made their case yesterday to senior
AgResearch management and board members.
Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead and former
Dunedin North MP Pete Hodgson both said after the meeting
they felt members of the board were beginning to question
some of the arguments behind cutting about 80 jobs from
Invermay and shifting them to its Lincoln campus.
''I was left with a view that some members of the AgResearch
team were starting to doubt the wisdom of their ways,'' Mr
''By and large, I felt that the board members felt that there
was some cause for pause ... whereas the senior executive
team seem to be a bit more weathered to their proposal as
This raised hopes for the fight to save jobs at Invermay, as
the board was ultimately responsible for making the decision.
The pair felt yesterday's meeting was positive, but were
disappointed AgResearch, despite being repeatedly questioned
on the issue, would not say when a ''final decision'' would
be made. Without a timeline, AgResearch risked losing some of
its best staff.
''The big risk for us is that AgResearch allows the days and
months to drift by and in the meantime ... the best and
brightest shoot through, because they are the most
Mr Woodhead said the case the Southern delegation put to
AgResearch was ''comprehensive''.
''I did hear [AgResearch chairman] Sam Robinson say they
would be having a fresh look and getting back to us.''
''What that actually means, I am not too sure.''
He noted some board members looked ''quite uncomfortable''
during the delegation's presentation.
Collaboration by the regional council with AgResearch on
research related to Otago environmental concerns was also
discussed at the meeting.
Speaking at a press conference after the meeting, Dunedin
Mayor Dave Cull said it was pleasing to finally get an
opportunity to make a case.
''We are very grateful for some of the members of the board
and the executive team coming down and hearing us.''
Much of the delegation's case rested on the ''virtual hub''
that existed in Dunedin around genetics.
AgResearch acting chief executive Andrew McSweeney said the
meeting had been positive and further meetings had been
arranged with the ORC, Environment Southland and Otago
''It's been a really good morning - we have listened to the
Otago group. I think today's about listening, it's not about
Deputy vice-chancellor, research and enterprise Prof Richard
Blaikie said the university was pleased to have the chance
for an ''ongoing dialogue'' with AgResearch.