Support workers have been rushed to north Queensland to help the 237 workers sacked from Clive Palmer's Townsville nickel refinery.
The mining magnate-turned-politician's company, Queensland Nickel, announced on Friday that low nickel prices and lack of government support had forced the Yabulu refinery to "restructure its operations".
State Development Minister Anthony Lynham said a government "rapid response team" had been sent to Townsville to help workers secure their rights and entitlements and offer other services, like financial advice and employment assistance.
"237 hard-working Queenslanders have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, and that's a terrible way to start 2016," Dr Lynham said.
"These are tough times for these workers and their families, but there is help at hand and we're on an all-out effort to give those affected the support they need."
The team is expected to be on the ground on Friday afternoon.
Queensland Nickel's (QNI) managing director, Clive Mensink, blamed the state government for the company's decision.
"Because of the current nickel price and because of the failure of our own government to offer any support for our company's continued operations in Townsville, today Queensland Nickel has been forced to make 237 workers redundant," Mr Mensink said in a statement.
Mr Palmer has spent the past few months urging the government to guarantee a $35 million loan to help ensure the ongoing employment of 800 workers at the refinery, as the company battles with 15-year low nickel prices.
But acting Premier Jackie Trad rejected the company's claims, arguing the government did try to work with QNI to secure the jobs.
"Unfortunately, the government's request for access to the full financial statements of Mr Palmer's businesses was not responded to," she said.
"And we could not in all good conscience hand over money to a private company without full financial due diligence."
Ms Trad said the government was blindsided by the company's decision to sack more than a quarter of the refinery's workforce.
"I was unaware of Mr Palmer's decision," she said.
"Clearly jobs lost and jobs of this magnitude will be felt throughout the local regional economy."
Ms Trad was asked whether Mr Palmer, a self-proclaimed billionaire, should use his own money to help the refinery.
"I'll leave that up to Mr Palmer to answer," she said.
Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill described the sackings, from her city's biggest private employer, as a bitter blow.
"In the current economic environment, with unemployment high, these job losses will make conditions even more difficult," she said.
"I hope that this step is a genuine attempt to ensure the long-term viability of the refinery and that this will secure the remaining 550 jobs at QNI."
Comment has been sought from Mr Palmer.