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PM's Electorate Treasurer Could Lose Science Job

26 May 2002

In her Innovation Growth speech at the beginning of the year the Prime Minister said one of three major areas New Zealand needed to focus on to achieve growth would be biotechnology.

"There is huge irony in the fact that horticultural research has seriously lost out in funding and may have to lose up to 30 scientists, including the Prime Minister's electorate treasurer," says Dr Paul Hutchison, National's Crown Research Institute spokesperson.

"The Government's rhetoric does not correlate with their actions and it is tragic that they are targeting axing key horticultural strategies. The work includes plant biotechnology, bioactive compound discovery, and food quality.

Dr Hutchison says New Zealand is well behind in both private and public spending in science, and if the Government was really interested in the knowledge economy it would not have to put either the researchers or the good research in jeopardy.

"Last year the government raided the combined CRIs of $50 million, having previously promised they would let them retain their dividends. This year they have shifted funding out of horticultural research with little notice.

"Science is a long-term game and planning must be reasonably predictable. Scientists are a scarce resource for New Zealand and we must do everything possible to keep them here, particularly in the strategic areas of horticulture and agriculture," Dr Hutchison said.

Ends


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