decision to largely stick with plans to slash jobs at
Invermay has just become an election issue, with Labour
vowing to overturn the move if elected.
Labour leader David Cunliffe told the Otago Daily
Times that, if elected, it would retain animal genomics
staff at Invermay, adding that yesterday's decision was yet
another example of National abandoning the regions.
''We are thoroughly committed to regional development and
that means all the regions.
''We think National has been absolutely punishing Dunedin and
Otago and we think Invermay's a world-class research
facility,'' Mr Cunliffe said.
Labour's promise brought condemnation from both Science and
Innovation Minister Steven Joyce and Dunedin-based National
Party list MP Michael Woodhouse, who labelled the move as
''pork barrel politics''.
Mr Joyce said Labour needed to be clear about ''what they are
actually offering'' and whether it meant ''junking''
AgResearch's entire restructuring plan.
''I think, at the moment, they are basically offering a
bumper sticker,'' he said.
He respected AgResearch's decision to shift animal genomics
staff to Lincoln and said it had tested the alternatives
''I understand that there will be some people disappointed,
but hopefully they take the view that there has also been
some significant gains as a result of the additional
He disputed the suggestion National had abandoned Dunedin.
''I think the Labour Party politicians should get to a point
where they stop talking Dunedin down all the time.
''Dunedin is doing pretty well; unemployment is one of the
lowest in the country; we are seeing quite significant
growth,'' he said.
The decision had ''nothing to do with'' strengthening Lincoln
or the Christchurch rebuild.
''It's important to note that they brought the plan to us
and, as you can see through the process, it has been changed
more in favour of Invermay.''
Dunedin North MP David Clark said the changes announced
yesterday were no more than ''cosmetic''.
''This is a big step backwards for the New Zealand export
''The science produced out of Dunedin and in co-operation
with the University of Otago goes a long way to explaining
productivity gains in the sheep-meat industry over recent
decades,'' Dr Clark said.
He said Labour had listened to the evidence and would
overturn the decision if elected.
''We will retain Invermay and preserve the animal genetics
hub, saving money and increasing agricultural productivity at
the same time.''
Dunedin South MP Clare Curran said the commercial hub
surrounding the research centre was hard won and should not
be done away with.
Mr Woodhouse said while he was disappointed the decision
meant jobs would move out of the region, he was pleased to
see the changes and hoped the campus could grow further.
''I am more than willing to work with other stakeholders such
as the Otago Regional Council and Environment Southland to
encourage more work at Invermay so it continues to grow into
a strong regional hub,'' he said.
Labour's promise to overturn the decision was a ''cheap''
''Labour's comments that they would retrospectively interfere
in a decision made by an independent crown entity is simply
pork barrel politics made by those desperate to offer cheap
promises in an election year.''
He ''completely'' rejected the notion the Government was not
focused on the regions and was encouraged to see the latest
ANZ trends report, which showed business sentiment across
Otago peaking at a 20-year high in December.
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull welcomed Labour's promise, calling it