The New Zealand government is to continue to invest in the Southern Hemisphere's largest piece of scientific infrastructure, the Australian Synchrotron, to maintain trans-Tasman science cooperation, Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce said Tuesday.
New Zealand would contribute 5 million AU dollars (5.24 million US dollars) over four years towards the operating costs of the Australian Synchrotron, which provides scientists with an intense light that can be used to study the structure and composition of materials.
"This continued investment ensures that New Zealand scientists will get preferential access to leading-edge research technology," Joyce said in a statement.
He cited Massey University's use the synchrotron to determine the structural basis for the differing strengths of sheep and beef leather, which had the potential to increase returns from the sheep industry by about 150 million NZ dollars (126.06 million US dollars) a year.
"New Zealand's involvement in the facility is an excellent example of trans-Tasman cooperation and international scientific collaboration," said Joyce.
The government and New Zealand research sector had previously contributed 6.27 million NZ dollars towards building the facility at Melbourne's Monash University and over the last five years had paid 4.39 million NZ dollars towards its running costs.
"Since opening in 2009, the Australian Synchrotron's performance has been on a par with the best in the world, and New Zealand scientists have been making the most of this opportunity. Nearly 20 percent of the research published in 2011 arising from the use of the Australian Synchrotron was based on New Zealand-led research."
The government would contribute up to 53 percent of New Zealand 's operational funding committed for the three-year period from July, with the remainder coming from shareholders of the New Zealand Synchrotron Group of research organizations.