Dr Jock Allison
A group of former AgResearch scientists seeking to have
the crown research institute's decision on Invermay staff
overturned has taken its fight to the Auditor-general.
Former Invermay director Dr Jock Allison, retired scientists
from the campus Drs Ken Drew, George Davis and Allan Crawford
and former Wallaceville scientist Prof Ken McNatty are
calling on the Auditor-general to review AgResearch's Future
Footprint Plan (FFP).
The five former scientists argue in a 16-page document lodged
with the Office of the Auditor-general that restructuring -
which involves shifting 69 staff from Invermay north to
Lincoln and about 250 positions in total - would be a ''waste
of public money'' and result in a ''crippling loss of
In calling for a ''comprehensive analysis'' of the project,
the report said AgResearch's $100 million restructuring plan
involved recreating state-of-the art laboratory facilities
which already existed at Invermay.
''We assume the Government does not wish to again be a party
to such a flagrant waste of public money.''
The plan was ''developed by an executive staff with a very
poor understanding of the needs of the agricultural sector''
and would ''seriously compromise'' New Zealand's economic
competitiveness in agriculture.
A previous attempt to relocate staff from the Wallaceville
campus had ended with most staff from its reproduction team
leaving the organisation rather than move to Invermay.
Dr Allison was uncertain if the Office of the Auditor-general
would heed the group's call, but said the request was ''based
on solid evidence''.
A spokeswoman for the Auditor-general's Office confirmed it
had the document and was considering the request.
Former Invermay researcher Karen Reader was made redundant by
AgResearch last week.
Ms Reader was one of the few reproduction staff left at
AgResearch who moved from Wallaceville when it shut down in
Her departure follows a recent decision to make
Invermay-based senior scientist Dr Julie Everett-Hincks
Southern Texel Breeders Association spokesman Hamish Bielski
said the latest redundancy and AgResearch's decision to go
ahead with plans to move genomics staff to Lincoln showed it
was ''neglecting'' beef and sheep farmers in favour of dairy.
''They assure us that everything is going to be fine, but
their actions speak otherwise.
''Their words are hollow.''
AgResearch's decision to stick with a plan to shift its
genomics team from Invermay to Lincoln was a ''huge blow'' to
sheep and beef research, he said.
''All the assurances in the world can not make this right
because of the loss of key staff.''
The next step for him in fighting the decision on Invermay
was to liaise with Beef and Lamb New Zealand, which had
sought more detail on the plan.
Mr Bielski said it was ''embarrassing'' how few staff from
Wallaceville remained at AgResearch.
An AgResearch spokesman said it was not ''neglecting'' sheep
and beef research.
''The retention of Invermay and Ballantrae hill farms as
centres for sheep, beef and deer research underlines our
''Future Footprint is about better positioning ourselves so
we can deliver benefits for all New Zealand pastoral farmers
and the New Zealand economy more efficiently and
He confirmed AgResearch was ''looking to relocate'' 69 staff
from Invermay to Lincoln, down from an initial plan of about
It was yet to receive notification of the complaint to the
Office of the Auditor-general ''and would not comment on it
without seeing it''.
Attempts to contact Ms Reader were were unsuccessful
AgResearch yesterday confirmed the sale of Flock House farm,
near Bulls, to Rangitikei-based iwi Nga Wairiki-Ngati Apa for
an undisclosed sum.
The 1100ha property has a 332ha dairy unit and a 768ha sheep
and beef unit. Proceeds from the sale of farms will be used
to fund its restructuring programme.