The sacking of Dr Jim Salinger by his employer, the government owned Crown Research Institute NIWA, has created a storm of protest amongst the science community in New Zealand .The reasons given for his dismissal, that he failed to gain permission for some comments to the media on weather and climate issues is ironic considering his outstanding reputation as a commentator with integrity and the common touch .
Dr Salinger also has an outstanding scientific record which has been supported by his peers both in New Zealand and overseas. He is a companion of the Royal Society of New Zealand ; a lead author in the most recent report by the IPCC(International Panel on Climate Change);a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize as part of the IPCC ;currently President of the World Commission for Agricultural Meteorology and author of many peer reviewed scientific papers .
President of NZIAHS John Lancashire said his overwhelming reaction to the sacking was one of extreme embarrassment for New Zealand."We are exposed as an immature ,.bureaucratic and small minded country who cannot manage creative people .You only have to read recent comments in the international science journal "Nature" to realise that the world's scientific community is not impressed .
"As a manager of a scientific group of 350 staff in the late 80's and 90's ,under both the government department DSIR and the Agresearch CRI , I know that the management of creative scientists is not easy" said Mr Lancashire ."It is very different from managing a manufacturing or retail business .You have to come up with flexible solutions to staff problems ,which are not just based on a "rules based tyranny" as one blogger put it ".
"Although the Wellington science bureaucracy from the science Minister down to MoRST and the Royal Society have said they couldn't possibly comment on an employment matter in a crown entity like NIWA ,perhaps the adverse international reaction might generate a more thoughtful response" .