Science spending concern voiced by NIWA directors

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Great concern over the strength of the Government’s commitment to research, science and technology as articulated in the RS&T 2010 strategy was expressed by the directors of the National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) in their annual report.

The Chairman, Mr Don Sollitt, said the Government’s last budget round initially contemplated major reductions in the Public Good Science Fund (PGSF).

"It was only as a result of very strenuous efforts that the case was accepted for maintaining this critical national investment.

"There is an ongoing need for science to make the case for research, science and technology and its value and importance to the future of New Zealand as a knowledge based society."

NIWA Chief Executive Paul Hargreaves said the PGSF came under serious threat during the run-up to the 1998-99 budget and substantial cuts were sought to science as part of the Government’s commitment to reduce overall public spending.

He said that the Association of Crown Research Institutes was able to argue successfully that science was not simply another expenditure line in the budget but a true investment in the future.

A modest increase covering the rate of inflation was subsequently provided for in the budget.

"A similar increase was committed for the 1999-2000 budget and has since been allocated by the Foundation for Science, Research and Technology. This will need to be confirmed in next year’s budget."