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The Cost Of Closing The Wallaceville

$24 Million Per Year - The Cost Of Closing The Wallaceville Agresearch Campus

Upper Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy has today forwarded his Council’s submission seeking the retention of the Wallaceville Campus, to the Chairman of the Board of Directors of AgResearch Ltd. The AgResearch Board is due to make a decision on Wallaceville at its meeting scheduled for 24 July 2003.

Mr Guppy said that his Council and Positively Wellington Business had jointly commissioned NZIER to analyse the economic impact of closing Wallaceville on Upper Hutt and the Wellington region. This analysis showed that the closure would result in the loss of 230 jobs and $24 million per year from the economy.

“Our submission focuses on these negative economic impacts on our community but also deals with the wider issue of the impacts on New Zealand’s biotechnology sector and AgResearch itself,” said Mr Guppy. “The AgResearch proposal is based on the mistaken premise that key scientific staff will be retained and that existing research teams will carry on merrily with their current research projects, but at a different location. But that isn’t going to happen with at least 30% of the key people refusing to relocate. Can AgResearch, and New Zealand, afford the consequences of that happening in terms of economic effects and loss of reputation?”

Mr Guppy said that he has asked to meet with the AgResearch Board to discuss the Council’s submission. “I am hopeful that the Board will agree to meet me,” said Mr Guppy. “AgResearch has an obligation under the Crown Research Institutes Act to consider the social effects that its proposal would have on Upper Hutt, but their Chief Executive, Keith Steele, is on record as saying that they have given no consideration to the effects on Upper Hutt whatsoever. I am confident that the Board will want to put this right.”

Mr Guppy said that another issue of concern was that this was the second proposal for a Government owned institution in Upper Hutt to be closed in as many years, the other being the CIT. “I think its also about time the Government started showing some more social responsibility to Upper Hutt as well,” said Mr Guppy. “You can’t help but wonder if Upper Hutt isn’t suffering from the fact that the Rimutaka Electorate is a safe Government seat in Parliament. I’m sure that if it was a marginal seat there would be far greater Government interest in us.”

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