Heather du Plessis-Allan: Labour's Tiwai Point u-turn shows they accept we've got a looming recession

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Manage episode 273203705 series 2098282
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Labour did a public u-turn on Tiwai Point yesterday, didn’t they?
They went from saying back in July that there was a “sense of inevitability” about its closure, to yesterday saying they’ll cut it a sweetheart electricity deal.
Now, maybe they were bluffing in public. Maybe they meant it but changed their minds. That doesn’t really matter.
What matters whether the u-turn is a good move, and I’m gonna say it is.
And I say this without any love for Tiwai’s parent company. In my opinion, Rio Tinto is a bad corporate citizen. It refuses to properly help get rid of its dross from Mataura, it’s constantly pleading poverty so it can squeeze governments for more and more subsidies, so I don’t personally have much time for them.
But the fact is, now’s not really the time for principles or ideology. Now’s the time to keep as many jobs as we can. And given that more than 1000 jobs depend on that smelter, and it accounts for around 11 percent of Southland’s economy and a respectable amount of the national economy, I’m prepared to accept this is a necessary move.
I’m actually glad to see Labour finally behaving like we’ve got a looming recession on our hands. Because up to now – with the minimum wage increases, the promised holiday, the doubling of sick leave – they are consistently behaved like it’s business as usual.
Now what’s going to happen is that Labour is going to try to tell you they haven’t done a u-turn. They have.
And they’re going to tell you this isn’t a subsidy. It is.
They are cutting a sweetheart deal on transmission pricing for only one company when everyone else has to stick to the current transmission pricing scheme and that is a subsidy.
But this can’t carry on. We’ve helped Rio Tinto out too many times now. This time it really has to be buying time, and nothing else.
It’s buying time for Southland to build up a new industry that provides jobs and supports the economy. Rio Tinto will probably come back for more in the future and when they do, we have to be able to say we don’t need them anymore.
This can only be buying time in the face of a recession.

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