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Hamilton Job Losses should be fought against

Hamilton Job Losses should be fought against

The announcement two weeks ago by AgResearch of a restructuring proposal which will lead to 180 science-related jobs being lost from Hamilton's Ruakura campus has bought deafening silence from the leaders of the city.

By contrast, Dunedin's Mayor and Council, supported by its University, business leaders and surrounding Councils, is working hard to try and reverse the 85-job cut proposed down there, and is very proactively calling the Government to account on the issue.

Six days ago, I requested that Hamilton City Council's CEO and Mayor place the item on the Agenda of today's Council meeting for discussion – hoping to spark some fight amongst Councillors who were privately telling me the job losses were "terrible."

The CEO, who is also Deputy Chair of the AgResearch Board, forwarded my request to a mid-level Council manager, who has no authority to place items on Council agendas. 

The Mayor did not answer me, until I renewed my request to her at the start of this week. She told me she felt "no need to have AgResearch on the agenda", but that Councillors could have a private "team discussion about it if they want."

It does the CEO and Mayor no credit at all that they have refused to provide a forum for discussion of these job losses, which will seriously affect the food and agriculture-related research hubs that have been developed in Hamilton.

Along with Councillor Wilson, I am attempting to call a special meeting of Council to force a formal discussion of this issue. We need 5 Councillor signatories to call this meeting – I hope there are enough concerned Councillors to reach this target.

Comments in the media by the Mayor and some Councillors have confused the issue. They feel we should not be discussing the CEO's membership of the AgResearch Board and any conflict of interest he might have – fair enough, but are they also saying we should not be discussing the loss of 180 jobs from one of our key industries? I hope not. 

The question of Mr Harris' involvement on the AgResearch Board is something only he can legally decide, and is not part of our call for the special meeting.

I have made my own personal view clear – I believe the position of the CEO on the AgResearch Board is untenable. When someone is paid the amount he is to lead the City Council, then that is where first loyalties lie. We cannot force Mr Harris to step down from a position that is clearly in conflict with his Council role – only he can decide that.

To their credits, some members of the city community have called for the 180 jobs to be retained in Hamilton; business leader Sir William Gallagher, former Mayor Bob Simcock, Waikato University Agribusiness Professor Jacqueline Rowarth and new Council candidate Anjum Rahman have all publicly stated this view in the last few days.

But deafening silence from the Council.

@davemac7
Dave Macpherson
Mayoral Candidate – Hamilton, NZ
https://www.facebook.com/davemacformayor
https://twitter.com/davemacpherson7
http://davemacpherson.blogspot.co.nz

ENDS

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