National calls for probe into research company

National wants a parliamentary inquiry into the problems at government science company Industrial Research Ltd (IRL).

The party's science spokesman, Paul Hutchison, said the company had reported losses for three years in a row and there had been 40 redundancies.

Last month, Nigel Kirkpatrick resigned after three years as chief executive.

The company recently posted a $5.37 million deficit for the year to June, on operating revenue of $60.1 million.

The deficit included redundancy payments of nearly $1 million. The company's accounts also showed it had loaned $17.8 million in the past two years to a financially-troubled subsidiary.

Since then IRL has started consolidating its core scientific research activities on a single site at Gracefield in Lower Hutt.

Dr Hutchison said a group of scientists had written to IRL chairwoman Liz Coutts expressing "shock and dismay" at the situation.

He said they had asked the board to acknowledge the problems and review IRL's business model.

"IRL was, until three years ago, a flagship Crown research institute," he said.

Dr Hutchison intends calling for a select committee inquiry when Parliament resumes in February.

- NZPA

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