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Independent scientists essential for fund

11 March 2008

Independent scientists essential for innovation fund integrity

The Green Party says that there must be independent scientists involved in the allocation of the $700 million pastoral and food innovation fund announced today by the Government.

Co-Leader Jeanette Fitzsimons says that the Green Party welcomes the funding announcement but emphasises that independent scientists are essential to avoid self-interested industry-capture of funding and to preserve transparency of process in the Government-industry partnership.

"New Zealanders must be assured that they are not going to get the same cosy relationship they got with the Clean Streams Accord - that dairy-government partnership was criticised just last week by a water quality expert as self-congratulatory and providing neither leadership nor information.

"This same situation must be prevented from occurring again, and the Green Party proposes that independent scientists be part of the 'Fast Forward' research, development and innovation fund allocation, perhaps by inviting the Royal Society to appoint these independents.

"The Green Party notes that this partnership focuses only on areas of meat, wool, dairy and kiwifruit. We have concerns that this investment will ignore opportunities for New Zealand to innovate in primary sectors outside these big four.

"We also ask why the fund is so narrowly focused on pastoral and food industries and the Government is not also investing in other key areas such as IT, energy technology innovation, and so on? Where is the overall strategy for New Zealand?

"We welcome the focus on 'sustainable pastoral systems' and the reduction of environmental impacts and hope that the organics sector will be given due consideration in the distribution of funding," Ms Fitzsimons says.


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