AgResearch shifts not set in stone
Proposals to centralise research in agricultural science at Lincoln in the South Island and Massey in the North Island are not a fait accompli, AgResearch acting chief executive Andrew McSweeney says.
Speaking after a meeting with southern stakeholders in Dunedin yesterday, McSweeney said AgResearch staff at Invermay facing the move to Lincoln would have incentives and flexibility among options.
A lot of groundwork had been done preparing staff for the changes but this did not mean the proposals could not change, McSweeney said.
Under the proposals Hamilton's Ruakura and Dunedin's Invermay are to be downsized and dozens of science jobs at those sites lost.
McSweeney said the focus was how to best configure AgResearch's scientific resource to balance the needs of the national pastoral sector and regional concerns and needs.
The proposal was based on Lincoln and Palmerston North having the country's main agricultural universities, large centres of science organisations and private sector organisations. In addition, Dairy NZ was well represented at Lincoln, he said.
He is leading an AgResearch group made up of executive and some board members on a restructuring roadshow to consult 24,000 stakeholders nationwide about the Crown entity's proposal.
Among those McSweeney and his colleagues met yesterday were the Dunedin City Council, the University of Otago, Environment Southland and the Otago Regional Council.
McSweeney emerged from the talks saying AgResearch had listened to concerns and arguments. No immediate decisions would come out of the talks, he said.
Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull, who headed several initiatives to inform AgResearch and the Government of the implications of moving scientists from Invermay, said national implications of the proposal had been emphasised to the AgResearch heads at the meeting.
One concern was that most Invermay scientists, who were doing crucial genetics and farm systems science, would simply leave the country because they did not want to move to Canterbury, he said.
Environment Southland chief executive Ali Timms said there would be a debrief of the meeting on Monday, followed by further meetings with AgResearch and the Otago Regional Council within weeks.
- © Fairfax NZ News