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Nats' science policy leaves a lot to be desired

25 September 2008

Nats' science policy leaves a lot to be desired

National's promise today to reduce the tax credit for private sector-funded research and development makes them the only party going into this election promising a tax increase, Progressive Leader Jim Anderton said.

"I was surprised to see the National party release the same policy which I released for them two weeks ago. However, nothing has changed for the better."

Jim Anderton said private sector investment in R&D was low by international standards, and the tax credit was a way of boosting that.

"It's unfortunate the National Government wants to reverse the progress this Government is making in scientific research and development."

He said the National Party opposition continued to ignore what was happening with the New Zealand Fast Forward initiative, despite repeated offers of briefings.

"Commitments have been made by the private sector, and they have welcomed the ringfencing of funding by use of a capital fund allocation. That gives certainty – something the private sector is keen on when making investment decisions.

"Having something as part of regular appropriations budgets means that it is at risk every time a government has cutbacks – and given that National is promising lots of new initiatives and spending but at the same time still having unrealistic tax cuts and no increased budgets, there will be cutbacks coming if they have a chance to implement their often-conflicting promises."

Jim Anderton said that by using only the first three years of anticipated Fast Forward funding and ignoring the current Government funding of the Pastoral Greenhouse Gas Research Consortium, National was alleging it would spend more money on agricultural research.

"The reality is that this is simply not true. In later years, Fast Forward will be spending at least $100 million a year and at least $10 million a year is currently going into the PGGRC – which is already the international centre of excellence in livestock emissions research. So this Government is already putting into the rural sector almost exactly twice as much as National is promising."

Jim Anderton said rural people needed to think carefully about the effects of supporting National, because the party did not seem to take their needs or future seriously.


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