MEDIA RELEASE: Purcell calls for relief from uncertainty for Alcoa and Portland

Portland will become a ghost town if the government does not support Alcoa to negotiate a cost-effective power contract and the company is forced to close, says Western district MP James Purcell.

Mr Purcell said he had met with Energy and Resources Minister Lily D'Ambrosio and is pushing hard for a finalisation to the power negotiations and ultimately some stability for Portland.

“I first raised the issue facing Alcoa's aluminum smelter at Portland in November last year, including the company's review of its global operations and the imminent negotiation of Alcoa Portland's power contract,” said Mr Purcell.

“Over the past three months the situation has become absolutely dire for Alcoa and the town of Portland.

"If the smelter were to close Portland would become a ghost town.”

The smelter directly employs 540 workers in the region and supports about 2000 jobs across service industries.

Recent media reports indicate the smelter is at risk of closure and is already running at a loss, with a large increase in costs of at least $50 million forecast under a new power contract.

“The issue is that the town actually is the smelter. The entire community will be devastated and the flow on impacts to the region will be huge if the smelter closes. It will cause irreversible problems for this area.”

Mr Purcell also questioned how the Government would support the Portland region by helping it transition to new industries, such as the proposed Renewable Energy Hub.

“The city of Portland is perfectly situated and enthusiastic about moving into renewable energy and becoming the renewable energy hub of Australia. I have asked the Minister to support our region financially in establishing this important industry."