Future of Kwinana refinery and 800 jobs rest with Cook Labor Government

Jan 9, 2024 | Libby Mettam MLA, State News

Alcoa’s announcement that it will fully curtail operations at its Kwinana alumina refinery is an indictment on the Cook Labor Government, according to WA Liberal Leader Libby Mettam.

Ms Mettam said tortuous environmental approval processes and energy supply uncertainty had played a significant part in the decision and the Labor Government must take responsibility.

She called on the Premier and Member for Kwinana Roger Cook to meet with Alcoa immediately to provide the company with the assurances it needed to turn around its future in WA.

“Alcoa has announced a glide path to closure but has left the door open for a ‘potential restart’,” Ms Mettam said.

“The Premier must do everything he can to remove the obstacles his government has put in Alcoa’s way if there is a chance to save some 1000 jobs.

“Alcoa understands its obligations to the environmental approval process and has a long history of compliance, however the Cook Government has made a career of delaying and complicating the process, locking Alcoa out of accessing higher grade ores, without which the business is not viable.

“This a very shabby way to treat a company that has been operating environmentally safely and employing thousands of Western Australians for 60 years.”

Ms Mettam said Alcoa had willingly reduced its operating capacity when called on by the Cook Government to slow operations to ensure gas shortages did not impact residential energy supplies.

It deserved greater accommodation and support.

“Alcoa references creating conditions for a potential restart in its announcement today, however the Premier has, by all accounts, simply thrown his hands in the air and accepted the loss of these jobs and the impact on our economy without making any effort to turn the situation around.”

Ms Mettam said the Cook Government was making it increasingly harder for business and industry to operate in WA.

“The Premier must act to prevent forecast energy shortfalls and simplify the convoluted approvals processes or our economy and jobs will bear the cost,” she said.

“Premier Cook talks a big game about diversifying the economy and capturing the benefits of downstream processing of our resources but when push comes to shove, he has no solutions and no interest.”