The news that Tiwai Point Aluminium smelter will remain open is good news for the 800 workers at the plant and the people of Southland, but points to a need for a comprehensive regional development strategy, Opposition leader Andrew Little says.
“The certainty this deal brings over the coming months and years will be welcomed in Southland which will be feeling the effects of the plummeting dairy prices.
“The lower New Zealand dollar has improved the smelter’s financial position on the international market and a deal has been struck that will bring relief to the region.
“However this whole mess was created by the Government’s inept negotiations in 2013.The mistake was committing $30 million in corporate welfare to bolster Meridian energy so that it could be sold off as part of the asset sales programme.
“It seems now that New Zealand Aluminium Smelters has won more competitive rates from Meridian.
“But what this prolonged and agonising negotiation has highlighted is the desperate need for a strong regional development strategy, so our major provincial cities are not relying on just one or two commodities,” says Andrew Little.