Media Releases | 20th Jan, 2017

Environment Victoria response on Alcoa Portland smelter agreement

Statement by Environment Victoria CEO Mark Wakeham:

“Today’s announcement of state and federal government support for Alcoa to keep its Portland aluminium smelter open for up to four years is lacking detail and represents a missed opportunity.

“While no one wants to see Portland workers and the community left in the lurch with Alcoa’s closure, today’s agreement failed to ensure that Alcoa will make a longer-term commitment to Australia and western Victoria by shifting to clean energy sources and therefore positioning itself for the future. This looks to be a stay of execution for workers at the smelter, but Alcoa has made no steps towards consolidating its future by moving to twenty-first century energy sources.

“We are also deeply concerned at the lack of detail provided by the Victorian government on their support for the smelter. In contrast to the federal government, today the Victorian government has provided no detail on the nature or amount of its support, which raises great concerns that it is a poor deal for Victorian taxpayers.

“Hiding details of aluminium smelter subsidies was poor practice in the 1980s, but it should be unthinkable today.

“It appears that Victorian taxpayers will continue to subsidise polluting brown coal energy for Alcoa for another four years, contradicting the government’s stated ambitions to be a leader on clean energy.

“We now have four years to plan for a genuinely sustainable and diverse regional economy in Western Victoria. We mustn’t sit on our hands waiting for the next time Alcoa holds the state and federal governments to ransom. Instead, we need a proactive plan for the region that supports those acting sustainably rather than those clinging to the past.”

For interview and further comment:

Mark Wakeham, Environment Victoria CEO
Office: (03) 9341 8127 Mobile: 0439 700 501