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Govt attack on science steps up – new cash grab focus threatens Callaghan Innovation scientists

Callaghan Innovation’s new focus on commercial-only research threatens the livelihoods of scores of scientists and risks damaging long term research that benefits New Zealand.

“This is another sad consequence of the Government’s reckless austerity drive to cut costs to fund tax cuts at a time when New Zealand is facing ever increasing challenges,” said Fleur Fitzsimons, Assistant Secretary for Te Pūkenga Here Tikanga Mahi.

Callaghan Innovation’s workforce has been presented with a restructuring plan which talks about significant cost pressures and proposes a reduction in size with a refocus on generating revenue through the commercialisation of science.

“This short-term focus on revenue will make New Zealand poorer in the long term. It risks stripping Callaghan Innovation of the very people that have led groundbreaking research that has benefited businesses and New Zealanders for many years.

“The proposal is a direct result of the Government cancelling the Wellington Science City proposal on top of the 7.5% cuts it’s demanded.

“The Science City proposal provided funding for desperately needed upgrades of buildings where scientists work. Callaghan says there are ‘significant Health and Safety concerns’ with current buildings which need ‘substantial funding’. Now instead of developing the quality facilities scientists need, the future of the Gracefield site appears uncertain.

“The PSA believes many of those potentially facing redundancy will leave New Zealand for jobs overseas, depriving Aotearoa of their expertise and knowledge we’ve invested in over many decades.

“The decision for such a wholesale change seems to be made in advance of any new science strategy from the Government.

“For years scientists at Gracefield have carried out public good research that did not have an immediate commercial gain but benefited New Zealand long term like the super conductor industry. Who’s to know what opportunities we will now miss out on if we lose the skills and experience of scientists?

“Imagine if we used the $3 billion in tax cuts for landlords to invest in research and development – how much better off would New Zealand be?

“The PSA will be opposing cuts at Callaghan and calls on the Minister to commit to investing in public good science and modern facilities,” said Fleur Fitzsimons.

 

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