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Meridian should look closer to home

Meridian should look closer to home

The National Party is questioning the move by state-owned power company Meridian to invest more than 600 million dollars in an Australian generator, when New Zealand's facing the chilling prospect of a winter energy crisis.

"Meridian should be focusing its energies on issues closer to home rather than empire building," says National Party Energy spokesman Gerry Brownlee.

"The Major Electricity Users group says New Zealand's international reputation is at stake due to the looming power shortages, Meridian should be looking to boost domestic production rather than growing its Australian business.

"What's with the Government policy, when its 100% owned company is spending up large across the ditch, at a time the cash is needed here for investment in new generation?

"Householders are already being warned they need to conserve power, and some of our biggest industries are being told they'll need to cut back on consumption if 'brown-outs' are to be avoided," Mr Brownlee says.

"Already the crisis is taking its toll, this week more than three hundred workers at Pacific Mills in Auckland were forced to down tools when wholesale electricity prices reached a point where production was no longer economic.

"Even our agricultural backbone is being affected with meat companies saying wholesale power price spikes are putting them under pressure at one of their busiest times of year.

"Energy Minister Pete Hodgson is only now starting discussions on how to deal with the looming crisis, when he should have been taking more of a leadership role months ago," says Mr Brownlee.

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