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Key driver of economic growth neglected

Dr Paul Hutchison

National Party Research, Science & Technology Spokesman


Key driver of economic growth neglected

Despite this Government’s rhetoric that ‘science and innovation are critical to driving our prosperity’, it has badly neglected research and development, National’s Science spokesman, Paul Hutchison, told a conference of 300 scientists in Queenstown.

“The 2006 Budget included a meagre $19.4 million of new spending in science.

“New Zealand has invested less than one-third of the OECD average in private R&D, as well as coming in under the OECD average in university and public science spending.

“The recommendations of the 2001 Knowledge Wave Trust have largely been ignored. This Government has failed to create an environment where business and science can thrive.

“It may profoundly disturb the 11,000 farmer shareholders in our largest private R&D company, owned by Fonterra, that they are downsizing in some areas of research, and some researchers have already gone to Australia. Though this is partly a strategic move, it should send shockwaves that the New Zealand environment for research and business is so out of kilter.

“It is fundamental to science that we have an optimal environment in which businesses can operate successfully.

“The regulations around biological science in the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act need careful reform. It is important to pastoral farming that the present hurdles around importation and research into germ plasms for grasses are removed.

“Labour has its priorities wrong – the challenge is to recognise that science R&D is a key driver to economic growth and is a pathway to increasing productivity,” says Dr Hutchison.

Ends

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