Transparency 'lacking' over Invermay

AgResearch's refusal to release information about its plan to slash jobs at Invermay is yet another example of its lack of transparency, Dunedin North MP David Clark says.

Mr Clark's comments come after AgResearch in the past week refused two requests for information by the Otago Daily Times under the Official Information Act.

The first request was for information relating to ''business as usual'' alternatives to AgResearch's restructuring plan.

The second request was for models AgResearch has provided to Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce on the potential impact of Invermay and other AgResearch staff choosing to resign rather than shift.

AgResearch refused the first request on the grounds the information was going to be released to the public soon and the second on the grounds releasing it would prejudice the organisation's ''ability to carry out its commercial activities''.

Mr Clark said it appeared AgResearch was choosing to withhold information which could bring its restructuring plan into question.

''Sadly, they seem to have demonstrated, up until now, a preference to reveal less rather than more.''

AgResearch's refusal to release information was probably partly due to pressure from the Government, he said.

Mr Joyce's failure to provide full answers to Mr Clark's written questions was an example of the signals the Government was sending, he said.

''Unfortunately, it's hard to escape the conclusion that a range of excuses of convenience are being used to push for time in the hope the issue will go away.

''The bad news for the Government is that there is a growing discontent with the decision around Invermay.

An AgResearch spokesman said in a statement yesterday that: ''AgResearch has been transparent and honest in its communications with staff and stakeholders'' throughout the process.

''The Future Footprint plan is about enabling AgResearch to deliver high-value science to meet the future needs of farmers and the wider pastoral sector.

''At times, confidential sensitive information that may impact AgResearch commercially may be withheld,'' the spokesman said.

Mr Joyce said the Government had been ''very transparent over AgResearch's plans and there has been a full public debate''. He had not given AgResearch guidance on whether or not to release information, ''other than the advice I give all Crown entities that they respond as fully as they can''.

''Given Mr Clark's political perspective, I'm not expecting anything to satisfy him.''

The ODT has lodged a complaint with the Ombudsman's Office over AgResearch's refusal to release the information.

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