Qld Nickel fate in creditors' hands
The Queensland treasurer says Clive Palmer's move back into his north Queensland nickel refinery raises serious questions, but insists the matter shouldn't be personal.
Administrators FTI Consulting announced on Monday that Queensland Nickel Pty Ltd had been replaced as the Yabulu Refinery's manager by Queensland Nickel Sales Pty Ltd which is run by Mr Palmer and controlled by two of his entities.
He said he was able to keep the refinery and associated Townsville Port facilities open by securing $23 million of funding.
"This is not about Clive Palmer," Treasurer Curtis Pitt told ABC radio on Tuesday.
"This has always been about the economic future of the Townsville region and what impact the closure of the Yabulu refinery might have had."
Mr Pitt said the government's offer of $10 million for creditors did not eventuate because it was not provided with answers to "very fair questions" about how the funding would be used and the structure of the companies.
It wasn't personal, he said, despite Mr Palmer tweeting a picture of a yellow gnome saluting its middle finger, addressed to the treasurer.
That post "set a new gold standard in diplomacy", Mr Pitt said.
The treasurer said the newest move raised questions about job security and entitlements for the workers.
Mr Palmer was hopeful many of the 550 jobs would be saved.
"It's up to on-the-ground management to look at who they need for what positions, but I would say many people there will apply for new jobs," he said.
The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) condemned Mr Palmer's actions and said he was giving staff the runaround.
Former Queensland Nickel employee Dave Vella said: "We don't want to be at the centre of another media circus, we just want to get on with our lives."
Queensland Nickel was placed into voluntary administration in January, just days after 237 workers were sacked from the refinery.
While the administrators will no longer oversee operations, they will evaluate proposals put forward for any potential restructure or liquidation of the firm and make recommendations to creditors by April 15.