The Labour Party's Dunedin-based MPs are pressing for the
Auditor-general to launch an inquiry into AgResearch's
restructuring plan, that would result in ''axing scores of
science jobs'' at Invermay.
An earlier approach by Invermay supporters did not result in
a full review by the Auditor-general, Lyn Provost, but the
MPs said circumstances had since changed and more information
had become available.
Labour deputy leader David Parker said there was ''a high
level of public concern'' that AgResearch's changes had been
''pushed through without taking into account the views of the
community and of businesses''.
And ''serious questions'' had to be answered, including about
the consultation process, he said.
Mr Parker, who is also the Labour finance spokesman, said
this was ''yet another irreversible blow to the regions
across the country''.
Dunedin South MP Clare Curran said AgResearch's failure to
deal with ''ongoing staff losses'' was of ''grave concern''
to farmers and the public.
Dunedin North MP David Clark said independent economic
analysis had shown the business case for dismantling Invermay
and shifting staff to Lincoln in 2017 did not ''stack up''.
The failure of AgResearch to satisfactorily monitor, review
and report on ''management of identified risks and perceived
conflicts of interest'' required independent examination, Dr
In a recent letter to the Auditor-general, requesting the
inquiry, the three MPs noted that parliament's finance and
expenditure committee had agreed unanimously to request her
to broaden her overall general scope of investigation to
include crown research institutes.
On May 28, AgResearch announced the earlier-projected 26
staff to be retained at the Invermay campus would be
increased to 38, and the Invermay farm and its deer herd
would be retained.
But most staff and Invermay's genomic capability would
transfer to Lincoln.
Approached for comment, Science and Innovation Minister
Steven Joyce said Dr Clark was being ''constantly negative''
and was again ''trying to re-heat his attack on AgResearch
for party political reasons''.
''If Dr Clark wanted to use his time more constructively, he
could work alongside AgResearch with local stakeholders to
increase the amount of research contracted to occur at