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IRL redundancies put spotlight on inadequate model

IRL redundancies put spotlight on inadequate funding model

The government must reform its flawed funding model for science in the light of the proposal to make 41 Industrial Research Limited (IRL) staff redundant released this afternoon, says the Public Service Association (PSA).

IRL is a leading science organisations with considerable expertise in the energy, engineering and biotechnology sectors. The PSA has over 2,000 members working for Crown Research Institutes (CRIs) and has taken a lead role in arguing for urgent change to the way science capability is supported in New Zealand.

PSA National Secretary Richard Wagstaff said New Zealand cannot afford to have the science sector slashed.

“A highly performing science sector has been identified as a key driver of innovation and sustainable economic growth, yet the current funding model for CRIs is at odds with this goal.

“IRL works in key areas critical to New Zealand’s future – including energy, engineering, biotechnology. It is very short-sighted to lose talented scientists and other skilled workers to balance the books in the short term.

“The degree of contestability in the funding model for New Zealand’s public science sector is unique in the world. That is not because we are world leaders, it is because no other country wants to risk losing their best and brightest to other nations where continued employment is not contingent on the results of competitive funding rounds.

“The PSA national science committee has been actively lobbying the government to move away from the destructive competitive funding model it inherited in 1999. Some progress has been made but these redundancies reveal the large steps still to be taken.

“It is critical that a stable funding environment for science is achieved and that we work together to find new ways to attract, retain and network our high performing researchers, scientists and technologists.

“The PSA will talk with our members about the IRL proposal. But we are also equally focused on changing the science funding system,” Richard Wagstaff said.

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