Regional Councils Disappointed at AgResearch decision
26 September 2013
Disappointment at AgResearch decision
The Otago Regional Council and Environment Southland remain concerned that AgResearch has confirmed its intention to move significant numbers of staff to its Lincoln Campus leaving a skeleton staff at Invermay.
Council chairman Stephen Woodhead said despite intensive efforts to point out the value of the genetics team, deer research team, and environmental group being based at Invermay, it appeared AgResearch had locked the door on negotiations.
Mr Woodhead said today’s announcements by AgResearch indicated the board was determined to rob Otago of staff specialising in the local conditions and needs.
Environment Southland chairman Ali Timms said the very minor concessions AgResearch made to their restructuring plan-retaining two additional staff-is merely window-dressing.
“In no way does this address our repeated serious concerns about the consequences of their actions for the growth of sustainable land use in the South.”
“It’s simplistic to say that these staff are available to come to Otago or Southland if needed. History tells us that part-time attention yields part-time results,” Mrs Timms said.
Both chairmen agree that Invermay is a vital and viable ag-science hub and much of the innovation in primary industry in Otago and Southland had come from it.
“It is well established with a world-leading genetics team able to use the substantial and modern infrastructure at Invermay,” they said.
“Moving it away from one of the most diverse agricultural areas of the country to Lincoln is short-sighted and flawed decision-making.”
Mr Woodhead and Mrs Timms said the past history of restructuring within Agresearch had shown the promised benefits have not occurred.
“There have been attendant delays, unbudgeted costs, loss of morale, and unintended consequences. We seriously doubt the Board has been mindful to quantify these downsides with the same vigour that they do any perceived advantages of this decision.”
“History tells us that with restructurings of this scale, 70% of staff won’t move and will become lost to research work, which will result in an overall drop in Agresearch’s productivity.”
“We question their ability to deliver the science needed to contribute to New Zealand’s economic growth after the restructure.”
Mr Woodhead said the research AgResearch dealt with was complex. It often required a good deal of collaboration to establish trials on local properties to find fit-for purpose solutions for primary industry developments in the region.
“Canterbury has a far different climate and farming conditions than the lower South Island, and this move shows how out of touch the Chief Executive and Directors of AgResearch are with South Island’s needs,” he said.