Media Statement - Tiwai Meeting
The Southland Chamber of Commerce welcomes the result of today’s talks between Southland business leaders and the Government – and a commitment to ongoing and meaningful discussions between all parties around the Tiwai situation.
Earlier today, the Chamber, Great South and the Southland Mayoral Forum met with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Minister of Finance Grant Robertson, Regional Economic Minister Shane Jones and Energy Minister Megan Woods to discuss the future of Southland’s prosperity, in terms of Rio Tinto’s announcement over the closure of the Tiwai Point Aluminum Smelter.
At the meeting, Southland leaders laid out their concerns around the closure of the smelter, signaling a dire economic landscape should plans for the smelter’s closure continue as announced last week.
Talks to mitigate the effects included keeping Tiwai around for another five years, to allow for the transition of industries in Southland, such as aquaculture.
Chamber president Neil McAra said he was pleased to have the engagement from Government on this issue.
“We’re not asking for a 20-year plan, just five years to look at other options and ensure Southland’s economy remains buoyant,” he said.
McAra said he believed the Prime Minister and Ministers left the meeting with a greater appreciation of the need to work towards a longer transition period than the 14 months signalled last week.
“We need everyone working together to find a solution that benefits all parties, so we welcome the Government’s commitment to be part of ongoing discussions around the Tiwai situation.”
Chamber chief executive Sheree Carey said she felt the discussions had been productive, with promising opportunities on the horizon for the business community.
“We’re thankful to the Prime Minister and her ministers for coming down to hear our concerns.
“This morning’s talks have given us all a bit of room to breathe and we’re optimistic about forging an interim road ahead to support Southland’s workers and economy,” she said.