Two New SOES To Support Nation's Economic Backbone

Press Release: New Zealand Government

Monday, 2 November 1998

Hon Tony Ryall
Minister for State Owned Enterprises

Two new State Owned Enterprises, Asure New Zealand Ltd and AgriQuality New Zealand Ltd, serving the food and agricultural sector begin trading from Sunday, 1st November, State Owned Enterprises Minister Tony Ryall said today.

"Agriculture is the backbone of our economy. The two new SOEs will provide improved services to our most important export sector," Mr Ryall said.

"The establishment of the two SOEs introduces competition into primary sector services with the aim of making them more cost-effective and responsive to customers."

Asure New Zealand Ltd and AgriQuality New Zealand replace the existing MAF Quality Management.

The two new SOEs were signalled in the Prime Minister's statement to Parliament in February as part of the Government's ongoing programme to improve services to the rural sector.

Establishment boards were appointed in May to set up the new businesses.

Asure New Zealand Ltd, headed by Chief Executive, Terry Pierson, provides front-line meat inspection services and other services to the meat processing industry.

AgriQuality New Zealand Ltd, headed by Chief Executive Hugh Lynch, provides services covering farm quality and animal health, quality assurance services for a wide range of food products, and biosecurity and safety services.

AgriQuality New Zealand Ltd incorporates four business units: Farm Network, providing advisory and technical services to improve production and quality; Assurance Services, providing advice on quality standards; Lab Network, providing technical analysis of food products; and Emergency Response, dealing with biosecurity and health issues.

Mr Ryall said there would be no reduction in services to the rural sector from the corporatisation process.

"Both SOEs have the food and agricultural sector as their customer base. With their services now contestable, it makes even more sense to retain customer loyalty rather than turning them away.

"The establishment boards of both SOEs have focused on maintaining service levels to the point of 'ring-fencing' key technical positions in order to retain highly skilled staff."

Mr Ryall said there would be no reduction in the level of vigilance or preparedness of front-line border security. Functions previously undertaken by MAF Quality Management, such as biosecurity, border quarantine, certification and reference laboratories have been retained in MAF.

Health Surveillance and Emergency Disease and Pest Response (EDPR) Services will be controlled through MAF, with service delivery contracted from the new SOEs and other service providers within tight specifications.

Likewise, strict quality control of New Zealand's export products will be maintained. Reference diagnostic laboratories for plant and animal pests and diseases will remain in Government ownership along with regulatory systems and certification requirements for products exported from New Zealand.

ENDS

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