Labour would negotiate to extend the life of the Tiwai Point Aluminium smelter by three to five years if elected, it says.
Party leader Jacinda Ardern and energy spokesperson Megan Woods announced the plan today, with negotiations focused on establishing a fair price for the transmission costs paid to Transpower by the smelter.
The party said it would require work on remediation, maintaining employment, and working with the government on future use of the site as conditions for the pricing, and would maintain the government’s stance – in place since 2013 – of not directly subsidising the smelter’s owner Rio Tinto.
The party would do this while also committing to maintaining fair electricity prices for consumers across New Zealand.
Labour says the extension would allow for jobs to be protected in the short term, while providing the community with time to consider alternative options.
The policy also includes expanding the Just Transition unit within MBIE, which focuses on reshaping New Zealand’s energy system to be more renewable, affordable and secure, with an additional $5 million per year to support regions beyond Taranaki.
In a statement, Dr Woods said the party wanted to support Southland to develop new industries that are future focused and provide well paid jobs for the region.
“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.”
“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,” she said.
Photo: Labour leader Jacinda Ardern and energy spokesperson Megan Woods are greeted in Southland by Invercargill mayor Tim Shadbolt. Labour leader Jacinda Ardern and energy spokesperson Megan Woods are greeted in Southland by Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt. Photo: RNZ / Tim Brown
Source: rnz.co.nz Republished by arrangement.