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Scientists Leave AgResearch If Wallaceville Closes

Top Scientists To Leave Agresearch If Wallaceville Closes



Concern is mounting that the proposed closure of the Wallaceville AgResearch Campus at Upper Hutt will be bad not only for Upper Hutt and the Wellington Region but also for New Zealand generally. Part of the proposal to close Wallaceville involves the transfer of scientists and technicians to other AgResearch campuses at Palmerston North and Dunedin with the aim that current research projects will continue with minimal disruption. The viability of the restructuring is dependant on all key scientists being prepared to relocate and this is an underlying assumption built into the financial analysis. The reality however is that approximately 30% of key scientists are unlikely to relocate meaning that there will be huge disruption to important research projects and total cessation in some instances, potentially damaging the reputation of New Zealand’s valuable bio-tech industry.

Upper Hutt Mayor Wayne Guppy said “My discussions with local AgResearch staff lead me to believe that about 30% of the key research scientists and highly skilled technical staff at AgResearch will leave the organisation rather than relocate to either Palmerston North or Dunedin. And I’m talking about the key people, the ones that really make the difference between success and failure.” Mr Guppy said that a number of these were likely to be lost to New Zealand totally and some will be attracted to advance the research capabilities of other countries.

The loss of these key people means that exciting new research developments in Animal Health vaccines, possum control, gene discovery and reproductive medicine together with future expansion plans of local and regional biotech companies will either be lost or seriously delayed.

Mr Guppy also said that he was astounded to learn that the AgResearch Chief Executive Keith Steel was leaving AgResearch on the eve of the implementation of his restructuring proposal. “How can anyone have confidence in this proposal if the Chief Executive is not committed to seeing it through” said Mr Guppy. “It’s an extraordinary situation and yet another reason why the Board of AgResearch must reconsider its decision to close Wallaceville.”

Statement ends.

6 June 2003

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