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Public meeting for sacked Townsville refinery workers votes to liquidate Queensland Nickel -

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MARK COLVIN: A public meeting of sacked workers from Clive Palmer's north Queensland Nickel refinery (QNI) has voted to liquidate the operation immediately.

Hundreds of frustrated former workers attended the meeting in Townsville today, chaired by the Sydney broadcaster Alan Jones.

Courtney Wilson reports.

COURTNEY WILSON: Former Queensland Nickel worker Ryan Yanz says he wants to move on from the Queensland Nickel saga, but along with about 800 other sacked staff he's stuck.

RYAN YANZ: Clive needs to go; he's got to get rid of it. He's got to do the right thing. Either shut it down; let us know what we're doing, stop like, we're sick of sitting in limbo.

COURTNEY WILSON: Initially, 237 workers were laid off in January when administrators took over the troubled company, with debts of up to about $100 million.

A replacement management company, also owned by Clive Palmer, was then set up last month in a bid to keep the plant running.

But that bid failed and the refinery ceased operating leaving another 550 workers without jobs.

Ryan Yanz says finding other employment in north Queensland has proven almost impossible and the stress is taking a toll.

RYAN YANZ: There's no work. We've been, you know, none of our separation payments have gone through. It's been a pain to be honest, so looking at moving to Darwin at this stage.

COURTNEY WILSON: Controversial Sydney broadcaster Alan Jones chaired today's public meeting in Townsville attended by about 300 former QNI workers.

ALAN JONES: This is a massively serious issue, massively serious issue, but poor old Townsville, up north and forgotten.

COURTNEY WILSON: Mr Jones coordinated the passing of several resolutions, first and foremost, that the company be liquidated immediately.

ALAN JONES: The background of this everyone knows, I think, and that Clive Palmer promised the earth and now he's run this business into the ground.

COURTNEY WILSON: Former local councillor Sandra Chesney, who organised the meeting, says food hampers have been distributed to some sacked workers who have now not had any money coming in for weeks.

SANDRA CHESNEY: They're just living on the two weeks' pay they got paid three weeks ago before they got fired. They're desperate.

COURTNEY WILSON: They haven't been able to access the Federal Entitlements Grant Scheme (FEG) because Queensland Nickel hasn't yet been liquidated.

Alan Jones told the crowd today despite holdups because of the actions of Clive Palmer, administrators FTI Consulting have indicated the company will be liquidated on April 22.

ALAN JONES: My understanding is the administrators had a gutful; they're not prepared to listen to the bloke anymore.

COURTNEY WILSON: Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill has called on the Federal Government to fast-track the process for getting money out to the sacked workers.

JENNY HILL: Can we open up the FEG now rather than having to wait until the April 22 before you can access that?

COURTNEY WILSON: Clive Palmer is the subject of the ABC's Four Corners program, set to air tonight.

It's uncovered documents which suggest the federal MP was the final approver for millions of dollars worth of spending at the nickel refinery, despite not being listed as a director of the company.

ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission) and Queensland Nickel administrators are currently investigating whether Mr Palmer was operating as a shadow director or whether the company traded while insolvent.

Mr Palmer has issued a statement complaining he was not allowed to appear live during tonight's Four Corners program to respond to the allegations.

The confusion and speculation around the ongoing state of affairs at Queensland Nickel is only adding to its former workers' frustrations.

Ryan Yanz says he just wants a straight answer.

RYAN YANZ: Do the right thing: let people know so they can start looking at other jobs, instead of flooding the market with 800 at once. It's bullshit, you know. It's rubbish.

COURTNEY WILSON: A report to creditors from administrators FTI Consulting will be released tomorrow before a meeting scheduled for next week to consider QNI's future.

MARK COLVIN: Courtney Wilson.