Tasmania’s Big Picture industries have welcomed today’s announcement by the Tasmanian Liberals who, if elected on March 15, will establish an Energy Working Group to assist in developing a comprehensive energy strategy for the State.
Collectively, Nyrstar, Bell Bay Aluminium, Norske Skog and Grange Resources are worth more than $2 billion to the State’s economy. These industries also account for more than 50% of the State’s energy consumption and help to keep prices down for Tasmanian businesses and families by providing a stable base load demand to the State’s electricity system.
Bell Bay Aluminium’s general manager Ray Mostogl said the commitment by the Tasmanian Liberals to establishing an Energy Working Group was a welcome sign of support to existing industries and to businesses looking to invest in Tasmania.
“Our industries have been part of the Tasmanian economic framework for many decades. Most of us came to Tasmania in an age when Hydro power was used as a strategic tool to attract new business and support economic development. Our industries add value with downstream processing, and jointly form a solid base for the State to leverage off to attract new business opportunities,” Mr Mostogl said.
Since 2011 Tasmania’s major industries have faced challenging market conditions due to high exchange rates and higher costs of production.
Mr Mostogl said: “Our operations employ thousands of Tasmanians and support local suppliers, contractors and small businesses. We are responsible for half of Tasmania’s exports by value but the impact of the increasing cost of doing business in Tasmania has the potential to see major industries and business either significantly reduce production capacity or risk the permanent exit of one or more of the major industries. This translates to a subsequent loss of economic output, a loss of thousands of direct and indirect jobs and a decrease in the standard of living.
“Electricity consumption has decreased across Tasmania over the last decade, however transmission prices particularly, have stayed high for major industry, more than doubling over the past five years or averaging a 17% increase year on year. Access to a reliably delivered energy supply at an affordable and competitive cost is essential to the continued contribution by major industry and business in Tasmania to the State’s future.”
Rod Bender, Norske Skog’s General Manager, said today’s announcement was recognition of the valuable contribution by major industry to the State’s economy and the jobs and flow on benefits throughout local communities that major industries provide. It also recognises the importance of electricity costs to all Tasmanians.
“We must value the major industries we already have here in Tasmania and create the best environment for business and industry to prosper. We should also build on this foundation to attract new investment and create further jobs for future generations,” Mr Bender said.
“Our industries want to remain viable in a long-term sustainable manner. To ensure this, Government needs to work collaboratively with business and industry to identify ways in which Tasmania’s renewable energy can once again be used as an economic and social benefit for the State’s economy. It is for this reason that Big Picture Tasmania industries have been talking openly to all sides of politics and the State’s energy agencies. Development of a whole-of-Government energy strategy that takes into account Government, major industry, business and household needs will result in affordable and competitive energy prices that will retain major industries and attract new business and investment to grow our economy and create more jobs for Tasmanians.”