Niwa sacks Jim Salinger

13:19, May 24 2009
OUTSPOKEN: Climate scientist Jim Salinger has lost his job after reportedly ignoring Niwa policy against speaking publicly without prior approval.

One of New Zealand's top climate scientists, Jim Salinger, has been fired from his job at the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (Niwa).

The high-profile scientist, whose work contributed to a Nobel prize, is reported to have been sacked for ignoring a new Niwa policy against speaking publicly without prior approval.

"I can't understand it, it's not as though I'm doing bad science, it's not as though I'm under-performing, so I'm really astounded," Dr Salinger said on TV One News tonight.

TV One said Niwa had accused Dr Salinger of serious misconduct after he took part in a programme the channel produced about glaciers.

The Green Party said Dr Salinger was dismissed earlier this week for helping TVNZ weatherman Jim Hickey with climate-related inquiries.

The scientist has frequently appeared in TV climate reports and has spoken in the media about climate change.


"Niwa's actions will make all government scientists nervous about their jobs," said Green Party co-leader Jeanette Fitzsimons.

"New Zealand is on a slippery slope when trying to provide Kiwis with a greater understanding of our climate is a sackable offence."

Ms Fitzsimons said scientists should be able to help the public and the media with scientific problems, particularly around issues like climate change.

"An investigation is needed into how it came to be that one of New Zealand's foremost scientists was frog-marched out of his job for what appears to be trivial and petty reasons."

Ms Fitzsimons said the Minister of Research, Science and Technology, Wayne Mapp, should call in Niwa and tell them to "get to the bottom of this messy matter".

Greenpeace said it wanted answers from Niwa and the Government.

"Dr Salinger has done some amazing work to educate New Zealanders about climate change and he is highly respected internationally," said Greenpeace senior climate campaigner Simon Boxer.

"He was very clear about the need for urgent climate action in New Zealand."

TV One reported Dr Salinger was considering claiming unjustified dismissal.