Solid Energy reprieve should spur Govt action

The Government has forced Solid Energy to the point of no return with a deliberate series of actions and policies, and now wants to sell it off, the Green Party said today.

“It’s a relief for Solid Energy’s 540 staff, 200 contractors, and their families and communities, that they still have jobs for the time being, but everyone knows the sun is setting on the coal industry and hundreds of workers are being let down by the Government,” Green Party energy spokesperson Gareth Hughes said.

“The Government needs to step up, take responsibility for pushing Solid Energy too far, and act to support workers and their families as a priority.

“John Key promised no more asset sales, but it looks like that’s exactly what the Government is planning for Solid Energy.

“Six years ago, Ministers were warned that Solid Energy was over-valued, carrying too much debt, and was over-optimistic about its future – but the Government didn’t listen and instead it demanded more in dividends and higher debt gearing.

“The future of Solid Energy and its workers is not a short term political problem that can be solved with debt restructuring and asset sales – it’s a long term economic issue that needs sustainable solutions.

“We’re inviting the Government to work with us on new economic development and employment strategies for places like the West Coast.

“We need a just transition away from coal mining and towards secure and sustainable jobs in industries that don’t cook the planet.

“The Government can encourage job creation in the clean energy sector by supporting my members bill that was drawn today.

“An Australian coal mine recently sold for one dollar. The Government should have seen this coming for Solid Energy and acted earlier to protect workers, their families, and communities.

“It’s appalling that despite all the signs of Solid Energy’s demise, the Government says it hasn’t done any analysis of what that will mean for KiwiRail and Lyttleton Port,” Mr Hughes said.