Scientists should be miffed that RNZ’s Checkpoint – reporting on the new National Party lineup under Chris Luxon’s leadership – tonight reported that former leader Judith Collins had been stripped of any critical portfolios .
Research, science, innovation and technology is not critical?
For starters, it’s the portfolio which Mr Luxon had been given in November last year when Ms Collins was leader – he was spokesperson for research, science and manufacturing, but it could be said he could not focus on his science responsibilities as well as she will be able to do, because he was also spokesperson for local government and for land information.
More significantly, his rank then was 29th. Ms Collins is ranked 19th.
Anyway, Mr Luxon told Checkpoint his decisions were not about repaying any favours from the leadership race, it was about presenting the strongest team.
“I’m sure there will be disappointment at some level, but I can tell you there’s 33 people and we will use all of their skills.”
But RNZ seems unimpressed with the importance of the job given to Ms Collins. Moreover, in the account which AgScience found, it removed the word “science from considerations:
Collins drops from number one as leader to number 19, with just the Research and Innovation, and Technology portfolios.
Luxon put the word back into play, saying Ms Collins has a real passion for the research, science, innovation and technology portfolio.
“She cares very deeply about it and she’s gonna be absolutely brilliant doing it.”
Ah – but will some scientists be bothered by the appointment?
Let’s not forget that National Party leader Judith Collins once was disparaging of one of the country’s top microbiologists, Dr Siouxsie Wiles, during a controversy surrounding Dr Wiles’ trip to the beach with a friend during lockdown – and was criticised in many quarters for what she said. According to RNZ:
Collins told Morning Report she believed “thought leaders” directing the Covid-19 response should follow the rules not just to the letter, but in the spirit of them. She said calling Wiles a big, fat hypocrite was simply a phrase similar to the widely-used phrase ‘fat, big liar’.
Another appointment of interest to the ag/hort science sector is that of Barbara Kuriger. She is 10th in the pecking order with agriculture, biosecurity and food safety responsibilities.
Scott Simpson (ranked 11) has been given climate change and environment while Stuart Smith (ranked 17) has viticulture along witb energy and resources and EQC.
In Judith Collins’ November 2020 line-up, David Bennett was spokesperson for horticulture and for biosecurity.
Barbara Kuriger was spokesperson for agriculture and food safety (along with energy and resources) in that lineup. But she then was ranked 14th.
Horticulture has not been assigned to anybody in the new lineup