“ACT has a positive, practical solution that will save Tiwai Point, but cost the taxpayer nothing,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.
“Winston Peters’ idea for a worker/management buy-out at Tiwai would simply dump the operation’s problems on its employees.
“The fundamental issue is that Tiwai’s costs – electricity, bauxite, and labour – are too high given the current price of aluminium.
“Tiwai can’t control the price of bauxite and it’s trying to save workers’ livelihoods. We need to bring down electricity transmission costs. There is a real, common sense solution for doing so.
“The Electricity Code contains a ‘prudent discount’ provision. If a customer can realistically get cheaper transmission pricing outside of Transpower’s network, Transpower should give it a ‘prudent discount’. In theory, New Zealand’s Aluminium Smelter could build its own line from Manapouri to Tiwai, invoking the provision. But the RMA means this alternative is not viable and the prudent discount can’t be invoked.
“The Government should legislate that a transmission line is consented between Manapouri and Tiwai. It is not going to build it, but Transpower will have to give NZAS a discount on transmission. This manoeuvre could make the smelter viable.
“The irony of this situation is that NZ First calls itself a champion of the regions, but Tiwai is closing on its watch.
“NZ First has done nothing to improve the prospects for development in the provinces, such as reforming the RMA. But it has dumped new red tape and taxes on productive New Zealanders.
“Heavy industry is being hollowed out by a hostile government that continues to put new costs and regulations on productive Kiwis. For three years, it has made it much more difficult and costly for businesses like Tiwai Point to be productive.
“Now, Peters is campaigning like he is in opposition. Has he forgotten that he has been the Deputy Prime Minister for the past three years?”