Science Under Threat – New Report Reveals Damaging Impact Of Govt’s Deep Cuts

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– At least half a billion dollars of funding axed

– More than 350 specialist science roles scrapped

– Vital work across farming, environment and climate throttled

The Government’s ill-considered cuts to science funding and jobs will damage the country’s ability to drive new economic opportunities and manage our environmental challenges warns the Save Science Coalition.

The Coalition today released Science under threat, a report which provides for the first time a full picture of the Government’s spending cuts, and the perspectives of the science community about the damage to the New Zealand’s science and research system.

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“The public science system in Aotearoa New Zealand is facing a crisis triggered by reckless and rushed government spending cuts without any real, considered understanding of its long-term impacts,” said Dr Lucy Stewart, spokesperson for the Save Science Coalition.

The Save Science Coalition is a grouping of 23 unions and scientific societies, which are working together with a common interest in a well-funded and well-functioning science and research system in New Zealand.

“Our report lays bare the long-term damage the Government is inflicting on the sector. While underinvestment in science has been a long-term problem in New Zealand, the current Government has reduced funding further, and caused workers in science to move overseas to find work – a trend that will take decades to reverse.

“The Government promised evidence-based decisions yet is ploughing ahead with these cuts in the complete absence of a science strategy. All of the cuts detailed in the report have occurred before Sir Peter Gluckman’s Science System Advisory Group (SSAG) has reached any conclusions about a path forward for the science sector. Making cuts now only exacerbates existing problems that the SSAG is looking into.

“Any changes the group recommends, let alone new funding, will not be available until well after these losses have begun to occur.

“Any new funding will not represent genuine investment in the sector until it has made up for the effective funding cuts (particularly the loss of the National Science Challenges) that have already occurred.

“The Government talks a big game about driving better economic outcomes. The strongest economies in the world are those that invest in science and research with a firm eye on the long term pay-off and not invest less which seems the Government’s current plan.

“Make no mistake, right now Aotearoa’s science is under threat like never before. We risk losing our best and brightest scientists and researchers to other countries that really value them, and that will set us back for years.

“The Coalition urges the Government to think again, reverse years of under-investment and properly support this vital sector before it’s too late.”

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