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Keep racial politics out of research

Don Brash National Finance Spokesman

29 December 2002

Keep racial politics out of research

Reports that scientists are becoming increasingly frustrated over calls to be more "responsive" to Maori have angered National's Finance spokesman, Don Brash.

"You can't have it both ways. It's simply not possible to demand progess and a higher standard of living and then veto the sort of research that could make this progress possible."

Dr Brash was commenting on reports that Canterbury University head of zoology, Professor Frank Sin, has been denied government funding for research into paua growth because it did not have strong enough Maori connections. Previously, Professor Sin had been knocked back on genetic research into paua and lobster because Ngai Tahu did not approve it.

This follows an earlier report that Dr Jon Hickford of Lincoln University was denied funding for research on footrot in sheep, in part because 'the outcomes for Maori need to be better targeted'.

"Professor Sin talks of these decisions strangling our science and the economy and he is right," says Dr Brash.

"All New Zealanders would benefit if we understood more about improving the growth of paua and lobster for commercial harvest. Similarly, the country would benefit if we knew how to counter the problem of footrot in sheep.

"It makes no sense to mix race and research to the detriment of New Zealanders. There needs to be a balance if we want to make real progress, and keep our young scientists in New Zealand.

"Racial politics should play absolutely no part in the allocation of funds for research because, in the end, it will create only disharmony. This is clearly another example of the Government talking about the need for faster economic growth, and then putting up roadblocks," says Dr Brash.


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