Labour is committed to supporting Southland jobs both now and in the future in the wake of Rio Tinto’s decision to close the Aluminium Smelter. We are seeking to extend the life of the Smelter between 3 to 5 years while a locally led transition for Southland is developed said Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern and Energy Spokesperson Dr Megan Woods today.
“By providing an extended time frame for the closure of the Smelter we protect jobs now and give the community time to consider and plan for future opportunities, looking at new jobs for the region, and building support for key projects that will ensure a vibrant future for the Southland region,” said Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern.
“We will be investing in Southland’s economic development based on a transition plan developed by local leaders and the community. Southland has a proud history as a productive region and we believe they have a productive future as well.”
Energy Spokesperson Dr Megan Woods said “the development of a locally led transition plan will be supported by the Just Transitions Unit within the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. We want to support Southland to develop new industries that are future focused and will integrate into the local community providing a source of well paid jobs for current Southlanders and future generations.”
“Extending the life of the aluminium smelter requires an agreement on electricity transmission costs. Normally, any reduction in transmission costs for a major customer like the smelter would result in higher prices for other consumers. Labour will negotiate a way forward to keep the smelter operating and prevent extra costs falling on other consumers. We’ll do this by supporting Transpower to form an agreement with the smelter that preserves jobs in the medium term and gives Southland time to build a new economic future,” said Megan Woods.
If terms can be agreed in order to extend the smelter for 3 – 5 years, they will include conditions that ensure the Smelter would:
- Continue operating for agreed period of time
- Work on remediation of the site
- Maintain employment at the site
- Work with government on the future use of the site.