Staff at Invermay are set to learn their fate in the
''near future'', but AgResearch appeared confused yesterday
about when exactly a ''final announcement'' will take place.
AgResearch chairman Sam Robinson said yesterday morning an
announcement would take place tomorrow, but a spokesman later
indicated this was not the case.
''We will be confirming our plans in the near future to
enable the design phase to commence.
However, we don't have a confirmed date for any
announcements,'' the spokesman said late yesterday afternoon.
AgResearch declined to answer any questions about a final
decision, which the Otago Daily Times understands
contained some changes to its previous plan, involving
slashing 75 jobs at Invermay and shifting them north to
But opponents say they will not be happy unless the decision
to shift genomics staff is overturned.
When contacted yesterday, AgResearch director Andrew
Macfarlane declined to discuss the announcement in any
detail, but believed it was ''constructive''.
''I'd like to think it will allay some concerns [held by
opponents in Otago and Southland],'' Mr Macfarlane said.
However, it would not please everybody.
''There will be other concerns people will still have on
Mr Robinson earlier declined to comment on what, if any,
changes to the plan had been made.
At one point, he said he would not know how much the plan had
been changed ''until I read the announcement'', but later
acknowledged he had approved a final decision.
''The announcement will come out ... some time on Thursday
morning and until then there is not much point in
speculating, because we will wait to see what the
Meanwhile, the Public Service Association, which represents
about half of AgResearch staff, is angry it only found out an
announcement was imminent when approached by the ODT
The ODT understands a final decision on restructuring
was given to Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce
ahead of a planned announcement to staff and media, which
until yesterday appeared to be scheduled for tomorrow.
Mr Joyce declined to comment when contacted yesterday.
No-one spoken to yesterday revealed the full extent of
changes to AgResearch's previous plan, but it is understood
some ''deer farm systems'' roles will no longer be
The clear message from opponents of AgResearch's
restructuring plan spoken to by the ODT was that
nothing less than a complete reversal of its decision to
relocate genomics staff would be acceptable.
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull said the changes to the plan should
reflect the views of AgResearch's own ''change management
team'', which last year recommended genomics capability be
expanded at Invermay as opposed to being gutted.
However, given the way AgResearch had handled the process so
far, he did not hold much hope for significant change.
''If you go right back to the beginning there has been a
complete lack of transparency, right back to when we asked
for the business case and they ... only provided us with half
Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead had similar
sentiments to Mr Cull, saying it was ''blatantly obvious''
AgResearch's restructuring plan did not stack up.
Dunedin North Labour MP Dr David Clark said retaining or
''ideally'' strengthening the animal genomics capability at
Invermay was ''in the best interests of New Zealand'' and
Mr Joyce was responsible for the final outcome, he said.
''The minister ultimately has oversight of the board and, as
shareholding minister, represents taxpayer interests.''
PSA assistant secretary Jeff Osborne said it was
disappointing the PSA had not been told about the forthcoming
''I have made the point [to AgResearch chief executive Dr Tom
Richardson] this afternoon - he hasn't had the chance to
respond yet - that for the PSA to find out about potentially
major announcements via newspaper is not what we would expect
as being an example of good involvement.''
Mr Joyce did not respond to questions on the issue, with a
spokesman saying: ''The minister has nothing to add ahead of
any announcements by AgResearch.''
Dunedin list MP Michael Woodhouse, who has previously
expressed doubts about AgResearch's plans, also declined to
Dr Richardson did not return calls yesterday.