With luck the Government is rethinking its decisions on the AgResearch proposal to remove 85 jobs from its Invermay site at Mosgiel.
In AgResearch’s last Corporate Statement of Intent, Bill English as Shareholding Minister signed off on a new footprint for AgResearch that clearly foreshadowed the subsequent announcement on Dunedin job cuts. On the face of it, either English was happy to sacrifice rural productivity in the South for other Cabinet wins, or he was simply outmaneuvered by Steven Joyce.
Whatever the case, I would be first in line to congratulate the Government if it had a serious rethink.
The proposed shift to Lincoln represents a phenomenal waste of taxpayer money. Not only would a highly productive local hub of students, researchers and successful companies be destroyed, but the costs of building a new one (north of the $17 million to build the current facility which was built to state of the art specifications just 5 years ago) will be borne (all over again!) by the taxpayer.
We need high value, high wage jobs in regional New Zealand. Dunedin needs *more* of the type of research and industry clustered around Invermay, not less.
Last time AgResearch went down a similar path, it expected 25 scientists to shift from Wallaceville to Invermay. In the end just 7/25 made the move: a trifling 28%. Those close to the action this time around are predicting similar outcomes if the new proposal goes ahead. Around 70% of staff say they won’t shift. Top scientists will head overseas, or will cast about for jobs in top-ranked research universities like Otago.
If this hub is dismantled, not only Dunedin, but NZ as a whole will be the poorer.