'Sense of inevitability' as Government refuses to budge on saving Tiwai Point aluminium smelter

NZ Aluminium insists there's an opportunity to save the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter, but the Government isn't budging.

It was announced on Thursday the smelter will close next year, and it's estimated 1000 jobs will be lost as a result.

NZ Aluminium Smelters CEO Stew Hamilton says it will need a good discount on power charges in order to operate.

"For us to continue would have to require a significant reduction in power price so we're competitive on a global scale," he says.

The Government has had discussions on reduced charges - as well as private negotiations with power companies - but it hasn't struck a deal with Tiwai's owner Rio Tinto.

Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods says no one is going to give their electricity away.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson says there's a "sense of inevitability" about Tiwai's closure.

"We as a Government have backed what Bill English and John Key have previously said to them," he says.

In 2013, then-Finance Minister English gave Rio Tinto $30 million and an electricity subsidy. It was criticised by Labour who said Rio Tinto would come back for more.

English said Tinto "wouldn't get another bite of the cherry from this government" - but now, National leader Todd Muller wants to see a plan from the current one.

"Where is the plan? Where is the support for the Southland community? They don't have one."

But National doesn't have a plan either.

"I won't be drawn into what we would or wouldn't do," Muller says.

Smaller parties ACT and New Zealand First have their own solutions, and both require sweeping changes. ACT leader David Seymour's plan is tax reform.

"I think you don't need subsidies if you have an environment that's attractive to do business in," he says.

For New Zealand First MP Mark Patterson, a buy-out is on the table.

"I think we've got to look at all options, whether there are other ownership options, but we can't allow ourselves to be extorted by Rio Tinto," he says.

The Greens are looking to the future for new industries that could benefit from freed up electricity.