• Labor member for the Northern Territory seat of Lingiari Warren Snowdon
Labor member for the Northern Territory seat of Lingiari has attributed the closing of Gove’s refinery to a construction delay.
5 Dec 2013 - 4:37 PM  UPDATED 5 Dec 2013 - 6:17 PM

Warren Snowdon says Rio Tinto had the final decision to close the refinery, but a delay in securing a natural gas pipeline to the plant certainly played a role in its demise.

"We were lead to believe that had there been gas to Gove settled a lot earlier, perhaps when the former chief minister Terry Mills wanted to do the job, then it might well have been able to survive," said Minister Snowdon.

"But clearly Adam Giles wouldn't make the decision, and when he did make the decision it was too late, and he didn't make the right decision, so I think it made an impact."

The refinery is expected to close early next year with a total of 1,100 jobs likely to be lost in the process.

"I think there's been a lack of awareness by respective governments about the need to work with the region and to develop the region as a region in itself, and to look at how different parts of the region can combine to create new opportunities. But I think there's been a failure of reticence on the Northern Territory government to do that,” said Minister Snowdon.

However, Minister Snowdon believes it isn't just the Northern Territory government that has let down the people of Gove.

"Now we're in a position where we are in an emergency and we need to take emergency measures to try and sustain the community into the future, and I think that raises some very serious questions about how they are going to do that," he said.

"[It] means they're going to have to have proper engagement by the Commonwealth government to develop a regional package with the Northern Territory government and indeed with the mining company, but they've got to talk to the community."

Northern Territory chief minister Adam Giles travelled to the region last week to meet with locals and employees of Rio Tinto.

In a statement, Minister Giles reassured residents the town will survive.

“[I have] mobilised the top levels of the territory public service to work on the issue and [have] the Prime Ministers full support behind [me]."