Plan must be tested, Woodhouse says

'I am not convinced AgResearch has met the test set them by Minister [Steven] Joyce.' - Michael Woodhouse
'I am not convinced AgResearch has met the test set them by Minister [Steven] Joyce.' - Michael Woodhouse
Immigration Minister and Dunedin-based list MP Michael Woodhouse is not convinced AgResearch has yet made its case for shifting scientists from Invermay to Lincoln.

As the debate about the merits of an AgResearch hub being established at Lincoln, Mr Woodhouse confirmed to the Otago Daily Times yesterday he had visited Invermay and talked to the staff.

There had been a fear that leaving just 20 scientists at Invermay to deal with farming services and animal services was a ''death spiral'' number. But Mr Woodhouse had been ''assured'' by AgResearch 20 was the absolute minimum number of scientists and it was hoped to lift the number to 50 scientists at Invermay in the future.

''We need to test that plan and make sure it is the right thing to do for New Zealand Inc and New Zealand agriculture. Can we be confident moving 50 scientists out of 80 from Invermay is better than moving the 30 from Christchurch to Invermay? I am not convinced AgResearch has met the test set them by Minister [Steven] Joyce.''

Mr Woodhouse had had a meeting with AgResearch chief executive Tom Richardson and expressed his concerns about the impact on the region and city the reduction in staff at Invermay would have.

He had made a ''strong point'' of AgResearch being more open with the community about its plans for the future. The Minister intended visiting Invermay within the next two weeks to talk more to staff to try to get a better understanding of the situation and the risks involved for Invermay.

However, he remained open-minded about the final outcome.

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