A new work plan for Southland will put local residents back in the driving seat of their economic future, Minister of Energy and Resources and Minister of Research, Science and Innovation, Megan Woods said today.
“This important milestone, just 18 months after Rio Tinto announced it was winding up operations at the New Zealand Aluminium Smelter, represents an exciting opportunity to shape the jobs and future we want for Southland,” said Dr Woods.
“The closure date has since been delayed to 2024, but no matter when the final closure occurs the transition is an important opportunity to build a fairer, more sustainable, more resilient local economy.
“Developing new industries, creating new jobs, improving the community’s ability to manage economic shocks, setting Southland up for the future – these give Southlanders options that are not dependent on one large employer.”
She said the partnership was the result of many months of work by Iwi, regional leaders, and the local community.
“The Southland Just Transition Work Plan is a big step towards certainty for Southland’s economic future, it gives clarity on the direction of travel, incorporates the strengths of the region, and is about putting Southlanders back in the driving seat,” the Minister said.
The work plan sets out three themes to underpin Southland’s transition:
- Creating new industries and employment – clean energy, land use and aquaculture have been identified as the sectors with the greatest potential to diversify the region’s economy while providing good, new jobs.
- Transitioning workers and skills – supporting workers and businesses to take advantage of new opportunities and build Southland’s economic, social, and environmental resilience.
- Long-term planning – good planning to build resilience up to and through the planned closure of the smelter.
“I look forward to the next step of the journey when all of the work streams that are part of the plan provide their reports on the next stage of delivery,” Minister Woods says.