Media Release from NZ Association of Scientists
NZ Association of Scientists concerned about freedom of speech
The business model underlying Government's science institutions, the Crown Research Institutes or CRIs, is again under
scrutiny following the dismissal of Jim Salinger, one of NIWA's principal scientists and a leading spokesperson for
weather and climate issues.
The New Zealand Association of Scientists (NZAS) vigorously supports scientists speaking freely in their areas of
scientific expertise without inappropriate corporate constraints or threat of dismissal. Communicating scientific
advances to the public and commenting publicly on relevant science issues is an essential part of the scientific
process, particularly in non-commercial areas supported by the taxpayer. Scientific research and corporate models
operating under commercial imperatives have been unhappy bedfellows since the science reforms in the early 1990s that
set up the CRIs. Such business imperatives can undermine freedom of scientific expression.
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding Salinger's dismissal, NZAS strongly supports the right of scientists to
speak out freely in their area of scientific expertise. Any underlying institutional problem with this issue should be
addressed before serious damage occurs, either to our standing in the international science community, or to the public
reputation of our scientists. Government is currently reviewing its science structures and NZAS believes that this
review should include a reassessment of whether the current organizational structures are the most appropriate ones for
the innovative science that New Zealand will need to address environmental, social, economic and human health issues in
the years to come.
New Zealand Association of Scientists (http://nzas.rsnz.org/) is a nationwide association of practicing research
scientists spanning the universities, technical institutes, Crown Research Institutes of Science NZ, government
departments, industry, museums, and other science institutions.