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Malcolm Turnbull must urgently act to support QLD Nickel workers



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THE HON BRENDAN O’CONNOR MP SHADOW MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT AND WORKPLACE RELATIONS SHADOW SPECIAL MINISTER OF STATE

MEMBER FOR GORTON

MALCOLM TURNBULL MUST URGENTLY ACT TO SUPPORT QLD NICKEL WORKERS

Labor has written to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull calling on him to ensure workers at Queensland Nickel are paid their entitlements expeditiously, following the recommendation from administrators to liquidate the company.

Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten wrote to Mr Turnbull last night again requesting he instruct Minister Cash to exercise discretion to ensure workers’ hard earned entitlements are paid through Labor’s Fair Entitlements Guarantee (FEG).

There is now no excuse for Malcolm Turnbull.

Bill Shorten has previously written to Mr Turnbull urging him to take more action to assist these workers, including to expedite payment of the FEG. Unfortunately, in his response, the Prime Minister acknowledged his Minister for Employment has the capacity to expedite the payment of entitlements but that it was not clear the company would be wound up.

Given the administrator’s recommendation, it is now incumbent on the Prime Minister and the Minister for Employment to act immediately.

While some funding for career transitional assistance for affected workers has been made available, this is simply not enough. More must be done.

Last week Senator Jan McLucas, Labor’s candidate for Herbert, Cathy O’Toole, and I met with Queensland Nickel workers and we witnessed firsthand the devastating effects this situation has had on the nearly 800 individuals, their families and the local community.

It is deeply disappointing that the Liberal Member for Herbert, Ewen Jones, has not advocated for expeditious payment of the FEG to the workers. It is, however, even

more disappointing that he voted to support the Abbott-Turnbull Government’s legislation which will see an enormous cut to the FEG.

The Abbott-Turnbull Government’s Fair Entitlements Guarantee Amendment Bill 2014, which would significantly cut the entitlements of workers who lose their jobs through no fault of their own, still sits in the Senate and is still supported by Ewen Jones and the Abbott-Turnbull Government. It is only Labor that has successfully ensured the Government has failed to secure the passage of the Bill.

To try and mitigate the devastating effects of the Queensland Nickel situation Labor has urged the Prime Minister to:

 Urgently expedite the processing of workers’ entitlements for affected workers under the Fair Entitlements Guarantee (FEG).

 Match Labor’s $100m commitment to support the Townsville Stadium project, which will support over 700 jobs and provide a significant boost to the local economy.

 Fast-track funding proposals and construction of upgrades to the Bruce Highway

 Re-establish a Local Employment Coordinator for the Townsville region

 Work with local community to establish a Tourism Growth Strategy

Labor stands with these workers and their families during this difficult time.

WEDNESDAY, 13 APRIL 2016

MEDIA CONTACT: ERIN SMITH 0458 950 010