The Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance (ATA), a 75,000+ member national grassroots advocacy group representing the nation’s taxpayers, today condemned the previous SA Wetherill government decision to underwrite the Port Pirie smelter using taxpayer funds and demanded action to avoid leaving hardworking South Australian taxpayers to foot a $291 million bill.
“Politicians generally have no problem splashing cash on risky investments because they aren’t spending their own money.” Said Satya Marar, ATA Director of Policy. “That the former Labor government underwrote Nyrstar’s Port Pirie project with public funds as part of a deal that former premier Jay Weatherill made with Independent MP Geoff Brock to secure a fourth term in power, shows how taxpayers are betrayed and ripped off when political deal-making influences important and costly investment decisions.”
“Ironically, the same state government that threw the public purse at the Port Pirie zinc smelter has smashed South Australian businesses with the world’s highest electricity bills and unreliable power through its poor decisions. Energy-intensive businesses like smelters are suffering throughout Australia and the high cost of power is a major factor, with many forced to shut their doors for good and thousands of regional Australian jobs lost.
“We call on the current SA government to do all it can to avoid forcing taxpayers to bear a $291 million loss and hope that current and future SA governments learn from this experience before making or considering decisions to underwrite similar projects in the future.”