More pot shots with policy release

The Green and Labour parties have identified Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce as their election enemy number one when the Opposition parties release any policy Mr Joyce oversees for the Government.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman yesterday released the party's innovation policy and much of the second page of a two-page press release was devoted to criticising Mr Joyce.

The Greens announced $1 billion additional investment would be spent in research and development, including tax breaks, if the Greens were part of the next government.

Labour had its shot at Mr Joyce earlier in the week, when he backtracked on policy he criticised Labour for, by releasing similar policy four days later.

Mr Joyce, who used Twitter to lash the Greens for a lack of understanding about what was already happening in innovation, told the Otago Daily Times the Greens and Labour seemed offended the economy was doing so well.

''Perhaps they are resorting to personality politics because they see innovation as their space and are offended by what the country has achieved in those areas.''

The Greens and Labour had built a narrative that somehow New Zealand innovation, exports and R&D were slumping and if only New Zealand voted for them, everything would magically change.

''That's an insult to the hundreds of innovation companies up and down New Zealand who are doing exactly that - innovating and exporting.''

Dr Norman said Mr Joyce had strapped innovation in a straitjacket.

''By putting himself at the centre of a complex web of R&D funding, the minister is denying businesses the freedom to innovate on their own terms.

''Unlike Steven Joyce, we don't think politicians should have their fingers in everyone's pie. That just delivers bad results.''

Mr Joyce said it was ridiculous and insulting to suggest he made every decision.

On issues like AgResearch reducing its Invermay facility, he received criticism for not getting involved.

Recently, when Centres for Excellence, including the one at the University of Otago, received extra funding, he was criticised for not following the directions from Labour, Mr Joyce said.

The Greens would set up an expert working group to advise on the best mechanism to deliver the additional funding it would inject into the R&D system.

A tax credit created a level playing field and meant businesses could get government support for R&D without all the paperwork and bureaucracy inherent in the current system, the party said.

''The Greens, like Labour, have shown no interest in what's been happening with New Zealand's innovative businesses since Labour left government in 2008. That shows in their policy release today, which is full of embarrassing 2008-style rhetoric which has long since been overtaken by time,'' Mr Joyce said.

However, BusinessNZ chief executive Phil O'Reilly said business would ''strongly support'' the Green Party policy of more funding for science and technology.

The policy announced included funding an additional 1000 places at tertiary institutions for those studying engineering, maths, computer science and the physical sciences.

Mr Joyce is often called the Minister of Everything. His portfolios are: Economic Development, Science and Innovation, Small Business, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment, and he is associate Finance Minister.


 

Green innovation policy
 •$1b of new funding over three years.

 •R&D funding made up of tax credits and grants.

 •Firms going to overseas ownership to repay their grants.

 •Companies receiving significant funds agree to Government equity stake.


 

dene.mackenzie@odt.co.nz

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