Berl report 'subjective'

The head of AgResearch says an economic report criticising its case for slashing jobs at Invermay was ''narrow'' and ''subjective''.

The comments from AgResearch chief executive Tom Richardson come after Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce slammed Business and Economic Research Ltd's (Berl), which wrote the critical report under contract from the Dunedin City Council and the Otago Regional Council.

Dr Richardson, who last week declined to comment because he was yet to read the report, yesterday took issue with Berl's conclusions.

''AgResearch does not agree with either the narrow analysis or the information that the Berl report has put into the public domain,'' he said.

''The Berl report is subjective and is based on an abridged version of AgResearch's business case. We regret that Berl didn't contact AgResearch for information or comment.''

The report ignored a range of issues the organisation faced, including how much property it owned, some of which was no longer needed.

''We want to direct this investment into science which will benefit New Zealand agriculture,'' he said.

It also did not cover the fact investment in buildings was needed.

''If we are to continue to attract and retain world-class scientists, and also the scientists of the future, we need to have modern facilities.''

Berl executive director and chief economist Ganesh Nana last week stood by the report in the face of Mr Joyce's criticism.

''We stand by the report's conclusion, which is that the ... information that was in the public domain did not stack up,'' Dr Nana said.

Senior science leaders from AgResearch and the University of Otago met on Monday to discuss future collaboration on research projects.

''Some of this collaborative work will happen at Invermay and the University of Otago is also keen to take advantage of the potential benefits of the proposed new hubs at Lincoln and Palmerston North,'' Dr Richardson said.

vaughan.elder@odt.co.nz

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