Tuesday 9 January 2024
Federal MP Andrew Hastie has put the federal government and Alcoa on notice that he will fight for local jobs after the US mining giant confirmed it will fully curtail production at its Kwinana alumina refinery in 2024.
Mr Hastie said the Kwinana closure could have serious implications for families in his electorate of Canning, which is home to Alcoa’s biggest refinery in Pinjarra.
"The closure of the Kwinana refinery sends Australian industry and jobs to places like China and Saudi Arabia—just as we need to be growing our industrial base for strategic reasons," he said.
The announcement comes after long speculation that the 60-year old plant would be closed due to high operating costs and reduced market demand.
A phased reduction of the workforce at the Kwinana refinery will see just 50 employees remaining, culminating in roughly 1,000 job losses. Matt Reed Alcoa’s Executive Vice President and Chief Operations Officer said “we will work closely with our employees to provide support with transitioning to other opportunities… we remain committed to WA in the long-term and will continue to assess options for the refinery…”
Mr Hastie said he was concerned about the potential for more job losses and called on Alcoa to assure the future of the Pinjarra and Wagerup refineries.
“We already know the Albanese Labor government’s so-called ‘climate safeguarding mechanism’ is making it prohibitively expensive to refine bauxite into alumina.
“Of course that will have an impact on local jobs. Companies like Alcoa won’t think twice about shipping Australian jobs to China or the Middle East if it’s cheaper.”
“While there has been no speculation about the Pinjarra or Wagerup refineries at this stage—the closure of the Kwinana refinery could have a ripple effect,” he said.
Mr Hastie called on Alcoa to offer assurances to its workers at Pinjarra and Wagerup and rule out further job losses.
“The federal government has to step up here,” he said.
Just last December the federal government added alumina to the updated critical minerals strategy. At the time, Minister for Resources Madeleine King said “the updated critical minerals list and the new list of strategic materials will help government focus on those commodities needed to create jobs, keep us secure and power our economy”.
“They have listed alumina as a priority. They can’t just sit back while jobs head offshore. They've rushed into expensive and unreliable renewables, they’ve driven up power costs for industries as well as working families and seniors.
“Australians don’t need is added uncertainty when their families are already grappling with rising cost of living.”
Mr Hastie emphasised the refinery's significance to the region and pledged his commitment to ensuring its future.
“Australian jobs are at stake here,” he said.
“Alcoa workers and the people of Canning know I’m prepared to go in hard on their behalf when their jobs are on the line and this is no exception.”
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