July 28, 2020
Smelter closure sets challenge for government
Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says the government needs to oversee a transition when industries wind down.
New Zealand First is at odds with its Labour partner over how to manage Rio Tinto’s threatened closure of the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter in Southland.
There is also uncertainty over the future of the Marsden Point oil refinery in Northland, where Mr Jones is running for election.
He says New Zealand’s cycle of economic development is reaching a turning point, where some industries are coming to an end in their current form.
"We need to ensure that we put the community and the rights of employees, not only the investors, centre stage. If New Zealand is going to transition away from legacy industries to a newer, cleaner vision of development, then it has to be staged, the crown has to help underwrite it, and we must not cast communities on to the scrapheap like some sort of debris out of the machine of capitalism," Mr Jones says.
Shane Jones says New Zealand First learned a lesson in agreeing to ending oil and gas exploration without having an alternate industry waiting.
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