Campaign Against Foreign Control (CAFCA) has welcomed the impending closure of the Bluff Smelter operated by trans-national corporate Rio Tinto says Murray Horton CAFCA Secretary/Organiser.
“For as long as CAFCA has existed, i.e.over 45 years, CAFCA has called for the closure of Rio Tinto’s Bluff smelter.
The reasons why CAFCA called for its closure have never changed – it is “a transnational corporate ripoff, the biggest bludger in New Zealand.”
Murray Horton said the smelter had been a liability to New Zealand, not an asset. The smelter is the country’s single biggest user of electricity, consuming nearly one-sixth of the total, “24/7” for nearly 50 years.
“It pays a top-secret super cheap price that is not available for any other user and all it does is export electricity from NZ in the form of alumina while being subsidised by all other electricity users.”
The smelter is the textbook example of corporate welfare in New Zealand said CAFCA.
“It has been receiving a massive taxpayer subsidy continuously for nearly 50 years, in the form of the Manapouri Power Station built with public money for its exclusive use – and let’s never forget that a number of men died building that – and the cheapest and most secret power price rate in the country bar none.”
Still not satisfied, reportedly Rio Tinto still wanted more from the Government.
“The Government needs to learn a lesson from this. It is including a national interest test in its Overseas Investment Amendment Bill,” said Murray Horton. “The smelter would never have passed it.”
Indisputably, the smelter closing will have a negative impact on Invercargill and Southland. CAFCA advocates a “Just Transition” for its workers, just as for climate change.
“The idea is to help them through that change, not just put them on the dole and hope they will find another, typically poorer paid, job,” said Murray Horton.
Footnote: see CAFCA’s historic Comalco comic at https://www.scribd.com/doc/25367862/Comalco-Comic).