Southland’s leaders remain united in their approach to prioritise an extended transition period for the Tiwai Aluminum Smelter.
On behalf of the Mayoral Forum, Gore District Mayor Tracy Hicks is working alongside the Southland Chamber of Commerce who represents the local business community, and Great South, Southland’s Regional Development Agency, to advocate for an extended close-down period of the Tiwai Aluminum Smelter.
While the initial response from this group was to explore avenues to keep the Smelter open, the approach is now to advocate for the Smelter staying open for at least another five years so that a manageable transition can be achieved.
To make clear the critical need for this extension, Southland leaders hosted Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Minister Grant Robertson, Minister Megan Woods, and Minister Shane Jones on 16 July where representations were made on behalf of the region.
The following week, Coalition Government partner and Deputy Prime Minister, Winston Peters, visited the region to host a public meeting and discuss the proposed closure of the Smelter.
After both senior government representative visits, the Mayoral Forum provided the Government representatives with further detailed information to support the region’s case for an extended close-down period.
This included outlining the significant work already underway to support future regional diversity opportunities in the areas of aquaculture, R&D for food production, and the development of data centres and southern space operations, and highlighting the strong commitment to accelerate these opportunities alongside an extended transition at Tiwai Point.
To further amplify the importance of this extension and in gaining support for the opportunities that will retain high-value jobs in the region, urgent meetings with Government representatives in Wellington have been requested.
Southland leaders are being supported with their requests for an extended close-down period by experts with the appropriate knowledge and skills needed to encourage a successful transition and continue to be available to provide further information and analysis to the Government should it be requested.
Together, it is hoped that this unified and determined response will result in a manageable transition period and help contribute to a stronger and more vibrant future for the Southland region.