• Maurice Williamson

Act leader Richard Prebble has no understanding of the effect the Bright Future package will have on agriculture, Research, Science and Technology Minister Maurice Williamson said today.

"Mr Prebble's claims that the package will cost rural New Zealand $100 million couldn't be further from the truth. The changes will, in fact, benefit the sector," said Mr Williamson.

"The figure Mr Prebble is quoting is the funding of some existing projects to be transferred from the Public Good Science Fund (PGSF) to the New Economy Research Fund (NERF) over four years where the work fits better with the Government's goal of growing new business."

He said which projects these would be had not yet been determined.

"The challenge for New Zealand is now to build on our clear strengths in areas including primary industries and create value in whole new areas."

"This is why we established the New Economy Research Fund and if there are agricultural projects that are better suited to this fund, they may move.

"We need research that means, for example, we can manufacture and sell high fashion wool products rather than raw wool. This type of research would be better funded through the NERF rather than the PGSF, which is less commercially focused," said Mr Williamson.

"The dairy industry, for example, has already recognised the need for such research having recently announced funding of $150 million over the next five years. This is entirely consistent with the emphasis shift announced in the Bright Future package.

"Mr Prebble's remarks couldn't be further from the truth."