Labour has committed to negotiating an extension of the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter to support jobs in Southland, if they are re-elected.
“We are seeking to extend the life of the smelter between three to five years while a transition was developed for the region, Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern and energy spokesperson Dr Megan Woods said today.
The negotiated extension would include commitment to jobs and site remediation as bottom lines.
Labour’s election promise comes after owners Rio Tinto announced in July that they were planning to close the Bluff smelter over the next 14 months, putting 1000 jobs at risk.
“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,” Ardern said.
Labour also promised support for Transpower so that additional electricity costs incurred with the loss of the smelter’s contract with the power provider would not fall on everyday consumers.
“Labour will negotiate a way forward to keep the smelter operating and prevent extra costs falling on other consumers,” Woods said.
“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.”
Labour said the extension, providing terms can be agreed, would include conditions that ensure:
- The smelter continuing to operate for agreed period of time
- Work on remediation of the site of the smelter
- Maintain employment at the smelter site
- Work with government on the future use of the smelter site.