Malcolm Turnbull has told businessman-MP Clive Palmer to reach into his own pocket and cover the entitlements owed to hundreds of Queensland Nickel workers made redundant by the company's collapse.
Some of the workers have been waiting months for payment, unable to access welfare support while administrators determined how much they are likely to receive.
The prime minister confirmed the government was looking at what assistance it could provide, but insisted Mr Palmer should be the one making good the entitlements.
"That's the very least he can do in these circumstances," Mr Turnbull told 6PR radio in Perth on Wednesday, noting that Mr Palmer had held himself up as a great business leader and philanthropist.
Liquidation of Queensland Nickel would automatically trigger the Fair Entitlements Guarantee - a taxpayer-funded safety net to cover the unpaid entitlements of workers.
Employment Minister Michaelia Cash, who is considering a report from the administrators recommending the company's liquidation, believes Mr Palmer is morally obliged to cover the entitlements that could amount to more than $70 million.
"I think it is a disgrace that Clive Palmer may well get off the hook," she told ABC radio.
Local Liberal MP Ewen Jones says the government is going through the process of determining what federal help it can offer the workers.
"We will be doing that as quickly as humanly possible," he said.
The Townsville MP also took aim at Mr Palmer after the administrators found he secretly acted as a shadow director of Queensland Nickel.
Mr Palmer used the company as a piggy bank to prop up his other businesses and spending $21.5 million on donations to his political party, they said in their report.
The findings have been dismissed as "a lie" by the businessman.
"It is galling up here that we have to sit through his performances," Mr Jones said.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has penned another letter to Mr Turnbull requesting urgent federal support.
"In light of (the) recommendation by the company's administrators that QNI be placed in liquidation, I ask that you belatedly and urgently reconsider your decision," he writes.