Hawkes Bay good, Otago bad luck

The Government have announced some generous support of a Hawkes Bay event:

Steven Joyce@stevenljoyce

Announced two years of support for Hawkes Bay Art Deco Weekend thru Major Events Fund. Great event for the region.
http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/investment-support-art-deco-weekend …

The media release says:

The Government is investing $530,000 through the Major Events Development Fund to support the 2014 and 2015 Art Deco Weekends in Hawke’s Bay, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce announced today.

“Art Deco Weekend is unique to the region and New Zealand and provides an opportunity for visitors to immerse themselves in 1930s culture, music, history and heritage,” Mr Joyce says.

A cynical hack from the South responded:

Would that be in a National-held seat where the MP is retiring and you have hopes of retaining, by chance?

Fair point Mr Joyce.

Government don’t even need to “invest” any additional funds in Invermay. Unlike Tiwai.

All we want is for Government to stop gutting Otago.

Government must act on Invermay

Plans by AgResearch to create hubs and gut regional research facilities is contrary to advise from within their own organisation. They seem to be hell bent on empire building regardless of expert opinion from within their own organisation, ignoring a risk of serious degradation of agricultural research.

The ODT has obtained leaked documents: AgResearch executive overrules review team

There is anger in the South after leaked documents revealed AgResearch has ignored recommendations to save key parts of the Invermay agricultural research centre in Dunedin.

The documents, obtained yesterday, showed strong opposition to AgResearch’s ”future footprint” restructure proposal from more than 200 staff, including at Invermay.

It also showed AgResearch’s own change management team (CMT), appointed to consider the 245 staff submissions, agreed with many of the concerns.

Its recommendations included that key genomic, animal productivity and deer research scientists should remain at Invermay, rather than being concentrated at Lincoln.

The response from AgResearch’s executive team, contained in a separate leaked reply to the recommendations, was to reject them.

This sounds very shonky.

The ODT also rips into AgResearch in their editorial: AgResearch’s Invermay blunder

AgResearch, in its determination to concentrate research and administration in hubs in Palmerston North and Lincoln, is making a mistake.

From a purely parochial Otago point of view, the gutting of Invermay is bad enough. But, as is made clear in leaked documents obtained by this newspaper, AgResearch’s own change management team says it would be much wiser in a scientific sense to concentrate animal programmes at Invermay.

After receiving and analysing hundreds of submissions from staff, the change team came up with several recommendations which differed from AgResearch’s original proposal.

Yet, despite being charged with the task of considering in detail the plans, the group’s recommendations have largely been ignored by its own executive. AgResearch announced to staff this week that the original twin hub proposal stands, almost in its entirety.

The AgResearch executive seems to be at odds with everyone.

After all, as the change management team said about animal productivity, for example, ”location at Lincoln is likely to put capability at risk without yielding significantly greater benefit”.

Perhaps even more telling was the comment ”locations should be determined by science benefits rather than location head counts”. Surely no-one can disagree with that.

Not even the Government and it’s ministers should be able to disagree with that. Time for them to step in. Nathan Guy? Steven Joyce? Bill English? Michael Woodhouse? Jacqui Dean?

Southern action continues on Invermay

The announcement that the Invermay agricultural research centre may be gutted prompted a rising of concern and action in nearby Dunedin and across the south.

It prompted a Stand Up Otago feature and ongoing campaign by the Otago Daily Times.

And prompted a Southern Summit where mayors and leaders from Otago and Southland gathered to discuss actions that could save the south from further depletion of public service jobs and services.

The campaign has cranked up a gear. ODT reports South Enlists Former MPs.

Southern councils have reached across the political divide by recruiting former Dunedin MPs Pete Hodgson and Katherine Rich to the fight to save 85 jobs at Invermay.

Mr Hodgson, the former Dunedin North Labour MP, was the minister responsible for CRIs, including AgResearch, under former prime minister Helen Clark.

Former Dunedin-based National list MP Katherine Rich’s father, Dr Jock Allison, is a former director of Invermay.

Both former MPs were yesterday named as members of the working party finalising a counterproposal for Invermay, to be presented to the AgResearch board and Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce.

Good to see them stepping up to join the fight. And southern local government leaders are to meet Bill English.

Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull yesterday said initial talks had been held with AgResearch representatives, and a four-strong delegation of southern councils would meet Clutha-Southland MP Bill English in Balclutha on Friday.

That delegation would feature Mr Cull, Otago Regional Council chairman Stephen Woodhead, Environment Southland chief executive Rob Phillips and Clutha Mayor Bryan Cadogan.

The working party would make a final proposal to the AgResearch board late next month, and after that to Steven Joyce.

The counterproposal would be based on input from more than 50 delegates from organisations across the lower South Island, gathered at a summit held in Dunedin earlier this month.

The meeting was called after AgResearch unveiled a proposal to shift 85 jobs from the Invermay agricultural research centre to either Lincoln or Palmerston North by 2016.

Mr Cull said the counterproposal being prepared would show AgResearch’s plan was ”strategically damaging both to the region and the national economy”.

”Many see Invermay as integral to Dunedin’s economic development strategy, and its loss would have a major impact on the wider regional economy.

”If they take away the sort of infrastructure and services offered by Invermay, they erode our research and economic base and we have nothing to build on.”

Keep up the good work.