Jan 20, 2017

Alcoa bail-out opens up a new front in an old culture war

The right's insistence on maintaining the Alcoa aluminium smelting plant is reactionary: the greenies want Portland to close, and therefore it must be kept open, writes John Quiggin.

Reports that the federal government is committed to bailing out Alcoa’s Portland aluminium smelter -- and has pressured AGL to offer a below-market deal on electricity supply -- will be welcomed by the 600 workers at the plant, and by the people of Portland more generally. For the rest of us, it provides an object lesson on the policy incoherence of the Abbott-Turnbull government in just about every dimension. 

The only way to understand this government is in terms of tribal loyalties and enmities. Policy positions are determined by the state of these loyalties and enmities, but their valence can change rapidly with shifts in the relative standing of different groups, so that yesterday’s orthodoxy is today’s heresy.

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3 thoughts on “Alcoa bail-out opens up a new front in an old culture war

  1. Roger Clifton

    Of course we need cheap, copious energy. Of course we need energy-intensive industries like aluminum smelting. Of course we need an excess of energy supplies to encourage the growth of new industry. The fact that we must supply that energy without recourse to coal-oil-and-gas is not being confronted. It is a weak-kneed sentiment to make token replacements of coal-and-gas by wind-and-gas. We must reconsider the alternatives.

    1. AR

      Come on Dodger, don’t be shy, tell us where you think this new, too-cheepcheep_to meter energy will come from in your benighted view.
      Wouldn’t be four letters and start with ‘N’ and end with ‘E’ would it?

  2. David

    This won’t secure the long term future of the plant, Alcoa doesn’t run them that way. The Alcoa tactic is to build the plant and run it for a fixed period of time, I think the target is 40 years.

    Every year the maintenance budget is reduced, the goal is to have the whole place on the edge of falling apart at the finish date. This was also the process used for the recently closed Geelong facility.

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