Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce said
yesterday he had no concerns about the progress of AgResearch
farm sales and lashed out at comments by Dunedin North Labour
MP David Clark.
Dr Clark said revelations AgResearch had failed to meet
worst-case scenario deadlines for selling farms showed its
restructuring plan was a ''shambles''.
He said Mr Joyce's written answers to parliamentary questions
showed AgResearch had failed to meet its deadlines for
selling four of its research farms in order to fund its
''In AgResearch's `worst case' scenario, the sale of Flock
House was to be completed by June last year, and Kaitoke was
due to be completed this month. They have not been,'' Dr
An AgResearch spokesman said Dr Clark's claims were based on
out-of-date information and that it now planned to sell ''a
number of our farms by 2016''.
An agreement in principle for the sale of its Flock House
farm, near Bulls, had been made with the Ngati Apa tribe.
Mr Joyce said Dr Clark's criticisms of every aspect of
AgResearch's operations were now wholly political.
''I would no sooner judge progress by Dr Clark's view than
fly to the moon,'' he said.
Asked if he was concerned about the recent revelation four
''star'' scientists intended not to shift from Invermay to
Lincoln, he said: ''Staffing matters are appropriately
managed by AgResearch.''
Dr Clark said the fact the farms were yet to be sold
showed AgResearch's restructuring plans were ''off the rails as
key project deadlines have passed''.
''The [AgResearch] board is failing to manage project risk.
''AgResearch's board and Minister Joyce have already agreed
that staff retention is the No 1 risk to be managed. And they
are failing there, too.''Add to this the fact that 92% of
sheep breeders are against the plan, and you have an emerging
Dr Clark stood by his comments after being told AgResearch
had changed its timeline for the sale of its farms, saying it
''begs the question how many times they are going to shift
the goal posts''.
An AgResearch spokesman said progress on farm sales was on
''The estimations from 2012 have been replaced by those in
our statement of corporate intent and project plan,'' he
The sales had no effect on its plan to move about 75 Invermay
staff north to Lincoln over the next three to four years.
There was ''no basis ... whatsoever'' to Dr Clark's claim
AgResearch's restructuring plan was an ''emerging debacle''.
In a report given to the Otago Daily Times under the Official
Information Act last year, a Ministry of Business, Innovation
and Employment official said it believed AgResearch's timing
of asset sales to be optimistic.