By Phil Pennington of RNZ
The Government offered to pay millions of dollars to Rio Tinto just months after promising in the election campaign it would not give a direct subsidy.
The offer is revealed in 25 pages of letters released to RNZ under the OIA, between the mining multinational and ministers over a deal to keep the Tiwai Point smelter from closing early.
Rio Tinto was urgently seeking a deal to deliver a big cut in its $60 million-a-year power lines – or transmission – charges.
While campaigning in Southland ahead of the 2020 election Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said: “We have said we do not believe we should be giving a direct government subsidy to Rio Tinto, so that’s not what we will be doing.”
Three months later, the Government wrote to Rio Tinto, which owns 80 percent of New Zealand Aluminium Smelters (NZAS), with an offer of a payment to begin the very next month, in January this year.
In July last year we posted this piece by Murray Horton — “Bluff smelter closing — good riddance to Rio Tinto” — who described Rio Tinto as “a trans-national corporate rip-off, the biggest bludger in New Zealand. It is a liability to New Zealand, not an asset.”
He further stated: “The smelter is the textbook example of corporate welfare in New Zealand.
“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.”
Despite her Marxist beliefs, Dear Leader seems quite happy to give huge amounts of NZ Taxpayers’ money to mega-rich foreign individuals and corporations.