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National's 'psychic energy' science policy

Hon Jim Anderton

Minister of Agriculture, Minister for Biosecurity
Minister of Fisheries, Minister of Forestry
Associate Minister of Health
Associate Minister for Tertiary Education

9 September 2008 Media Statement

National's 'psychic energy' science policy

Research and science are so important for New Zealand that the country cannot afford national's intention to scrap New Zealand Fast Forward and reduce research and development tax credits, Agriculture Minister Jim Anderton said today.

"National's policy would be a devastating blow to innovation, to business in general and to our primary industries in particular. It is the kind of science policy you would have if you think New Zealand's research and development needs can be taken care of by psychic energy.

"New Zealand desperately needs to increase productivity. The $700 million Fast Forward Fund is the single-largest investment ever made in the innovation we need to lift productivity and New Zealand's living standards. Matched by private sector investment, the Fund would grow over time to be worth as much as two billion dollars. National proposes to scrap that.

"The fund gives the private sector confidence that the government's commitment will continue. The private sector is therefore giving its own commitment to increase its expenditure. There is no way that commitment would be forthcoming if we just increased the annual budget of a couple of CRIs.

"National is also replacing the R&D tax credit for business investment in research with a small grant to CRIs. They say too many people have started doing research.

"National needs to know that New Zealand's problem is not that we have too much research and development; our problem is that we have too little.

"National is proposing the greatest leap backwards in science since the Catholic Church tried Galileo. It is the kind of science policy you would come up with if you think the sun revolves around the earth.

"Its indicative alternative policy ignores the private sector contribution to NZ Fast Forward innovation, which more than doubles the size of the fund. It would not go ahead under National's policy. It also ignores the existing contribution of $2.5 million a year the government makes to the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium, that is matched by industry."

Jim Anderton said the business organisations that have signed up as foundation partners for Fast Forward include Dairy NZ, Fonterra, Meat and Wool NZ, Meat Industry Association, PGG Wrightsons, and Zespri. Aquaculture NZ has announced it intends to sign up.

"Dairy NZ chair John Luxton said investment in innovation was crucial for agricultural science.

"Fonterra said the New Zealand Fast Forward fund will enable New Zealand to build on our competitive advantage in agriculture and food production.

"The Meat Industry Association said Fast Forward will make a significant contribution to ensuring New Zealand's long history of world-leading innovation in the pastoral sector would continue and grow our international competitiveness. It said Fast Forward has been innovative through both the recognition of commercial outcomes as the driving force behind innovation; and in its recognition that government, industry-good organisations and individual companies have investment interests at different parts of the R&D spectrum.

"PGG Wrightsons saw Fast Forward as an opportunity to take a leadership role in assisting farm clients to drive innovative, technological products to enable them to take their part in the marketplace of tomorrow.

"Zespri said it strongly supported the New Zealand Fast Forward initiative, which aligned with its strategy of investing in the necessary research and development to grow the industry.

"These businesses are the backbone of New Zealand's economy and National has told them all that they are wrong."


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