Portland closure would be economically devastating, but domino effect would be catastrophic: new report

Tuesday 20th December 2016 0:00


new report form the Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work has revealed the economic devastation that would occur if Alcoa’s aluminium smelter in Portland was allowed to close. 


With federal Industry Minister Greg Hunt and Victorian Industry Minister Wade Noonan meeting with Alcoa’s senior global management in New York today, the full extend of what is at stake has been made clear. 


The research shows if the Portland smelter closes $800 million will be lose from the natitnal GDP, along with 3600 jobs. There would be a decline in government revenues of over $50 million per year in Victoria, and $192 million per year for the Commonwealth.


However, even more worryingly, the new report shows the pain would likely not end with the direct effects. A third of Alcoa’s Kwinana refinery’s output is currently sold to Portland, and the impact would be felt in WA as well.


The new report finds if the “domino effect” kicked in, 9000 jobs would be lost, with $1.75 billion lost from the GDP.


Australian Workers’ Union National Secretary Daniel Walton said the stakes were incredibly high. 


“Striking a deal that keeps on Portland open is incredibly important to the Australian economy,” he said. 


“If the Portland smelter is allowed to fail it will have a devastating impact, but we now know there is also no guarantee the damage would end there. 


“Portland is an integral part of the supply chain and if the Kwinana operation loses its biggest customer, it could very well end up on the rocks as well. 


“Then we’d be looking at a genuine national disaster in Australian manufacturing.”


The AWU’s Victoria Secretary Ben Davis said the potential impact of a closure needed to be avoided at all costs. 


"This smelter is Victoria’s single biggest exporter. Its closure would devastate the state’s southwest and decimate Portland,” he said. 


“The workforce is doing its part to make Alcoa Portland viable, but we desperately need state and federal ministers to approach this with the same spirit of co-operation. “Close to four thousand jobs are on the line, along with a sizeable chunk of Victorian industry. Everyone involved in this process needs to be crystal clear about the consequences of inaction."