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Government must back scientific research

Dr Paul Hutchison National Science Spokesman

18 December 2003

Government must back scientific research

National's Science spokesman Dr Paul Hutchison is backing the call of thousands of the country's scientists urging greater support and certainty for long-term research.

The scientists have sounded the alarm with an open letter to the Science Minister expressing "serious ongoing concern" about the effects government policy changes are having on fundamental long-term research.

The letter deals with the concerns about New Zealand's science capability, the quality of basic research and loss of research capability.

"These are all issues of vital importance if New Zealand is to make it as a knowledge society," says Dr Hutchison.

"The Government's being warned. The science community is seriously worried that basic discovery research is being compromised by commercialisation.

"A recent issue of New Zealand's major scientific journal was dominated by calls for change in Government policy. Dr Alan Freeth has labelled the 'policy culture' within the Crown Research Institutes as 'schizophrenic', says Dr Hutchison.

"The Knowledge Wave Trust has called for the "missing billion" needed for research in New Zealand and the 2003 OECD report highlighted New Zealand's drop in R&D spending as a proportion of GDP over the last four years.

"Compared with countries like Singapore and Taiwan, New Zealand is way behind, says Dr Hutchison.

"The Government is loud on rhetoric when it trumpets the knowledge economy and growth, but when it comes to funding scientific research, it's nowhere to be seen," he says.


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