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Clive Palmer delivers apology to sacked refinery workers

Clive Palmer has delivered an apology to workers made redundant from his north Queensland nickel refinery last week.

In the letter, Mr Palmer expressed his sadness at 237 workers being made redundant.

“I can only say how sad I am that we have lost your skills and services to the company,” the letter says.

“I can only apologise that we were not able to retain you as part of our workforce.”

Townsville MP Ewen Jones hinted to ABC News that assistance is coming for the workers sacked from Queensland Nickel.

“What we have to do is get them over this hump,” he said.

“I’ve spoken with (Federal Employment Minister) Michaelia Cash yesterday and we’ll be making an announcement in those specifics today, to assist them in that next step.”

Administrators were appointed at the refinery on Monday, which Mr Jones said confirmed the extent of affairs within the company.

At least now with administrators being appointed, they will be able to provide some clarity to the workforce and wider community in due course of what the company’s options are going forward,” he said.

“I want to assure the workers, their families and the wider Townsville community every avenue will be explored by our Government to seek a future for this company.

“I believe that we can find a home for this business as part of the supply chain in the manufacturing of steel. But let’s not forget we still have a community reeling after the loss of 237 jobs at the refinery on Friday.

“I once again urge the company to ensure all steps are taken to protect those workers who have lost their jobs and make sure all of their entitlements are paid in full.”

The company has blamed low nickel prices for its decision to cut staff, and also blamed the Queensland Government for knocking back its request to guarantee a multi-billion-dollar loan.

Federal Resources Minister Josh Frydenberg also revealed Mr Palmer approached his Government for help.

“The Commonwealth was asked and we said no as well because we’re not in the practice of bailing out private companies – we’ve made that clear in the past with SPC, Qantas and a number of other cases,” Mr Frydenberg said.

“It’s not a good precedent. But we do stand ready to help the workers where we can.”

Mr Jones said that the finances of the refinery needed to be investigated after the ABC revealed that the company had donated more than $21 million to the Palmer United Party (PUP) in the past two years.

He said that Mr Palmer’s party has a “massive moral obligation” to repay the donations.

“The nickel price has been down for the last three years and Queensland Nickel has continued to make donations to Palmer United Party,” he said.

“I think there should be some form of forensic examination of their books. I think we should go through and find if there has been anything illegal done.”

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Mr Palmer placed blame on Senator Glenn Lazarus, who left the party 10 months ago, for refusing to pay back electoral funding from Queensland Nickel.

“The main beneficiary of the $15 million Palmer United political campaign was Glenn Lazarus, yet today he refuses to pay back the money spent in order to get him elected as a Queensland Senator in the federal election,’’ Mr Palmer said.

“It seems like Senator Lazarus wants to take and never give. He has not contributed to the Senate since leaving the Palmer United Party to become an independent.

“He is not serving the people of Queensland, he is taking from the people of Queensland.

“If Glenn Lazarus is so concerned about the people of Queensland he should come clean and pay back QNI the money that got him elected.”


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