Today members of the Regional Leadership Group advocating for Southland’s community met with Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Minister for Energy and Resources Megan Woods to discuss the
for shadowed closure of the New Zealand Aluminum Smelter at Tiwai Point.
Gore District Mayor, Tracy Hicks, said it had been a constructive discussion with all parties in agreement that a long-term, managed transition to the Tiwai Point challenge was preferred over the short-term hard closure which has been proposed.
At the meeting, Minister Robertson was able to confirm that the Government supports a managed transition and that there are ongoing negotiations taking place, involving the Government, Majority NZAS owner Rio Tinto and Meridian Energy to encourage this to happen.
In addition, there was also discussion around Government support for a just transition package for Southland that would be used to implement some of the projects identified in the Southland Regional Development Strategy.
Through the Strategy, areas of opportunities that would contribute to the development of a connected, contemporary and competitive region have already been identified and therefore Mayor Hicks said that with this framework, the region was well-placed to benefit from Government support.
The Regional Leadership Group, which is made up of regional mayors, business leaders and Great South, is continuing to actively engage with the senior leaders of all organisations involved to advocate for a solution on behalf of the Southland community.
Mayor Hicks said that any Tiwai closure would be a significant issue for Southland voters in the upcoming election.
“It is expected that all political parties will have a clear stance on this and while the timing of the elections isn’t helpful, we have been proactive in taking the opportunity to engage directly with all party leaders to advocate for a managed transition,’ he said.
The Regional Leadership Group is acutely aware of the uncertainty and anxiety in the Southland community because of the impending Tiwai closure and is continuing to support negotiations which will encourage a preferred solution to be reached.
“While we appreciate nothing can be confirmed until after the election, it’s critical that a solution which supports a managed transition period can be found shortly afterwards, along with a just transition financial package for the region,”