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Call for government buy-out of Aluminium smelter

14 July 2020

by Chris Leitch, Leader, Candidate for Whangarei

Social Credit is calling on the government to step in and purchase the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter and turn it into an SOE, issuing non tradable shares to every New Zealand citizen.
It should offer just $1 for the purchase and then plough money into installing advanced emission control equipment to stop aluminium getting into the air and the food chain, and cleaning up the environment and the left over waste products.
It could also upgrade the plant to bring it up to world class standards.
That investment could be accomplished very easily and without any cost to taxpayers, by using a process similar to the $60 billion dollars the Reserve Bank is creating currently to buy government bonds off rich investors, banks and speculators.
The alternative is to spend millions in unemployment benefits for years to come as the downstream effects of the closure affect the Southland economy with many people on the dole, numbers of others moving away from Southland to find work elsewhere, and additional health costs and the other effects of unemployment.
The plan would also save a massive investment by Transpower over the next 10 years to build the capacity to transport Lake Manapouri power to other parts of the country, wasting energy in the process.
Part of the sale package would need to be long term contracts for raw material supply and sale of the finished product to international supply chains.
The shares would give every New Zealander an annual dividend, and could only be sold to a Tiwai Point Trust established to hold any unwanted shares, with dividends on those shares being used to benefit the Southland community.
An extension of the plan should be the re-purchase of the shares the government doesn’t already own in Meridian Energy, with it also being turned into an SOE, with the issue of non tradable shares to every New Zealand citizen.
The government sat on its hands and let Westland Milk Products be sold to a Chinese government owned company, with a consequential loss of co-operative New Zealand ownership, when it could easily have avoided that and it should not make the same mistake again.
Returning Meridian to New Zealand ownership would reverse the privatisation of it undertaken by National in 2013, and should be the start of more strategic assets being bought back - a process that would be undertaken by a Social Credit government.

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