Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Howard's End: Magnesium Opportunity Raises Issues

The Government says it is seeking partnerships with local authorities to help drive economic development forward, but it's behaviour suggests something quite the opposite. John Howard writes.

Eyebrows were raised at an economic development forum last Thursday when Deputy Prime Minister Jim Anderton told more than 100 delegates, including many of the country's Mayors, that he and Industry NZ had been working on a plan to bring Australian company Pima Mining to New Zealand to establish a magnesium smelter which will use large amounts of electric power.

Trouble is, most of the Mayors at the forum knew nothing about the smelter proposal, but it has subsequently been revealed through media statements that Gisborne/Wairoa, Taranaki and Southland are the favoured districts.

Not surprisingly, some Mayors at the forum from the depressed areas said they were shocked that negotiations between the Government and the company had been going on behind the scenes of which they were unaware. They said they had not been given the chance to compete in an open and transparent process which has clearly involved the Government.

Two mayors said, "this magnesium smelter idea has just come out of the blue", and they were most surprised.

The establishment of the smelter is still at the feasibility stage but New Zealand is looking strong, according to a press release issued by Pima Mining Chairman, Pat Elliott.

The company plans to barge the magnesite raw material to a proposed $70 million smelter which would ultimately create 340 jobs. To cater for anticipated demand for light-weight magnesium metal used in motor vehicle manufacture, the proposed NZ smelter would have a capacity in excess of 50,000 tonnes per annum.

What is deeply concerning to me, is that by its allegedly secretive actions the Government has likely undone all the goodwill between itself and local authorities which it has tried to establish over many months.

So I have some serious public interest questions.

1. How is it that only some districts have insider knowledge and have been involved in the proposed smelter venture?

2. Why hasn't the Government advised all districts so that everyone could compete fairly in an open and transparent process?

3. Is the Government using its insider knowledge to direct overseas inquiries for NZ ventures to certain areas - perhaps for its own electoral advantage?

4. Is the Government withholding approvals for certain projects, like the proposed Dobson hydroelectric power station in Greymouth, for its own advantage in other districts.

The U.S. Government is renowned for making decisions surrounding pork-barrel politics but we don't want them here.

The sequence of events are these:
- Scoop carried a press release by Pima Mining on Wednesday 4 April
- Pima announced the NZ venture to the Australian Stock Exchange the same day
- Jim Anderton made his statement at the economic development forum the next day (Thursday) that he had been involved
- a report about the proposed smelter was carried in The Dominion last Friday
- Grey Councillor, Tony Kookshorn, was also reported Friday saying the proposed smelter is proof the West Coast needs the new hydroelectric power station at Dobson.

What is also worrying, is that one Mayor from the North, told me at the forum that he felt his district, after spending thousands of dollars in an attempt to attract a new venture, was gazzumped by the Government and the substance of the new venture went elsewhere.

Clearly, with a deregulated power industry, a power station and a port which can take barges, all the districts who wanted to, would be able to handle the capacities needed for a magnesium smelter.

But that's their choice to make through an open, transparent and accountable process.

The Government will likely be receiving correspondence from the districts expressing surprise and seeking explanations over how this situation developed. I expect they might also call for notification of any future projects or ventures that they might like to compete for. And afterall, the Government and its Departments must act in the public interest for all New Zealanders.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news