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Rio Tinto profit shows Key’s hand-out unjustified

Rio Tinto profit shows Key’s hand-out unjustified

The $3.7 billion profit posted by Rio Tinto yesterday shows that the $30 million taxpayer hand-out that National gifted to the owners of the Tiwai smelter last year was unjustified, Green Party Co-leader Dr Russel Norman said today.

Multi-national Rio Tinto yesterday announced a profit of $3.7 billion in the past year, the same time period in which National made a deal with Rio Tinto to hand over $30 million in taxpayers’ money to Rio Tinto subsidiary Pacific Aluminium in return for a promise to keep the Tiwai Smelter open until January 2017. The deal came during the lead-up to National’s sale of shares in Meridian, the electricity company that owns the Manapouri dam that powers the smelter.

“National gave a $30 million hand-out of taxpayer money to Rio Tinto last year. Now that company has posted a $3.7 billion profit, John Key should be asking for our money back,” said Dr Norman.

“Rio Tinto took advantage of Mr Key’s obsession with asset sales by threatening to derail the sale of Meridian by closing the Tiwai smelter, so Mr Key gave them $30 million of public money.

“This isn’t the first time that Mr Key has been out-foxed and backed into a corner by multi-national corporations in search of a taxpayer hand-out. Time and again, they have applied pressure to his political agenda and he has folded, leaving the taxpayer to pick up the bill.

“New Zealanders deserve better. Now that Rio Tinto has posted this enormous profit, Mr Key needs to step up for New Zealand taxpayers and try to get our money back. I doubt he will though.

“Mr Key seems more than content to write cheques with the public’s money to any corporate that comes knocking on his door,” said Dr Norman.

ends

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