Cull says hope still for Invermay jobs

A phone call from AgResearch's chairman has given Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull hope political pressure is being applied to keep jobs at Invermay.

Mr Cull was speaking last night at a mayoral forum at Sidey Hall, in Caversham, where the prospects of saving jobs at Invermay, drilling for oil and gas, rates and council debt were among the issues discussed.

Responding to comments from candidates Andrew Whiley and Cr Lee Vandervis suggesting it was too late to reverse a decision to shift 85 jobs from Invermay, Mr Cull said the effort to save jobs at the facility was not a ''lost cause''.

''I did get a phone call from the chair of AgResearch [Sam Robinson] on Friday, which gave me some hope that there was some political pressure being applied and that the arguments that we are putting forward pointing out the importance of the work that is done at Invermay to the national economy may have got through to the people that matter.''

Mr Cull was also the only candidate apart from Aaron Hawkins to express any opposition to drilling.

''I don't support oil drilling in an increasingly risky and difficult conditions,'' he said.

Cr Vandervis earlier said the decision had already been made on Invermay.

''In terms of Invermay, I don't think there is anything to be done about it. The deal was done a long time ago.''

Mr Wylie said both staff at Invermay and on the council had known since last year that jobs were going to be lost and something should have been done about it sooner.

''We needed to be proactive, we needed to be fighting that back in August and September last year.

''You don't turn around at the last minute and say 'jeez, I have got to go get those jobs back'.''

Hilary Calvert suggested Dunedin needed a lobbying presence - funded through the existing budget - in Wellington to fight for the city.

She earlier received warm applause when she said there needed to be greater accountability at the council and fewer rates increases.

''I think we should be able to find some people accountable for tens of millions of dollars of our money disappearing,'' she said.

Pete George said councillors and local MPs needed to work together to better lobby central government and keep up with the play on decisions affecting Dunedin.



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