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Mackey: Science Appointment May Turn Out To Be A Bitter Irony

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Moana Mackey
Moana Mackey

20 May 2009 - Labour's research and development and science and technology spkesperson Moana Mackey is congratulating the Government for appointing a Chief Science Advisor in the Prime Minister's Office, but says the appointment is ironic as it seems National is about to gut science and research funding in the Budget.

"I am sure that Professor Peter Gluckman can make a powerful contribution, but it will hardly be an auspicious start if next week the Government's replacement for Labour's $700 million Fast Forward Fund turns out to be a new fund worth just $30 million a year at most," Moana Mackey said. "That will make a mockery of National's promise to replace Labour's initiative with something better, and of the so-called funding commitment John Key made in September last year."

Moana Mackey says that an AgResearch paper presented to a Waikato agricultural advisory committee suggests National's promised "better" deal in place of Labour's guaranteed fund will be a mere $90 million over three years.

"And it gets worse. Where Labour's fund, with promised industry support, may well have eventually reached $2 billion, National's promised replacement appears contingent on matching dollars from industry at a time when industry has been hit by the economic crisis. In a time of recession we should be investing more in R&D and innovation, but what the Government seems to be proposing is a fund which will be effectively limited to short-term research.

"What the country and the primary production sector in particular need is long-term certainty. I am sure Professor Gluckman would agree, but the AgResearch paper suggests that government contributions to any initiatives other than those producing short-term results will be quite uncertain," Moana Mackey said.

"In September last year John Key specifically promised the same quantum of new funding as Labour but said it would be spent in a better way, minimising the need for extra bureaucracy. That promise now looks like a cynical sham. Unless the Budget tells a radically different story, it seems that National's commitment to the sector and to research and development and innovation is still as hollow as it has been with past National governments."

Moana Mackey said the primary production sector now faces an anxious wait till the Budget. "If its worst fears are realised, National's credibility will be shot to pieces and the sector's and the country's future prosperity will be undermined."

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