My primary concern is for the hundreds of employees who work at the Yabulu Nickel Refinery and their families, who are affected by the uncertainty and speculation surrounding this issue.
Yesterday, I said if there was something that can done, reasonably and responsibly, by the Queensland Government to assist the refinery to remain open, it should be fully investigated.
I also called on the Queensland Government to first of all secure a guarantee from Mr Palmer that the entitlements of all employees at the refinery are fully funded and protected.
Questions have arisen out of the decision in the Western Australian Supreme Court* on Monday 7 December 2015, about whether Mr Palmer has done what he can to fund his financial obligations, including at the Yabulu Nickel Refinery.
Paragraphs 112 to 114 of the court’s judgement says Mr Palmer’s representatives had provided no evidence that his company has attempted to raise funds or finance its obligations by alternate means, other than securing a royalty payment from its Chinese business partner.
The court’s judgement says it is surprising there were no signs Mr Palmer’s company had tried to raise alternate sources of finance commonly relied upon by resources sector businesses to fund their activities, including assets sales, equity finance, farm outs or joint venture arrangements.
The court formed a view that Mr Palmer’s company had overstated their inability to fund their activities and also noted in paragraph 119 that in 2013-14, the Yabulu Nickel Refinery was sufficiently profitable to donate more than $15 million to the Palmer United Party.
These observations by the Western Australian Supreme Court draw into question the motivation of Mr Palmer’s approach to the Queensland Government for financial assistance.
It appears Mr Palmer wants to use taxpayers’ money to prop up his privately owned businesses and risk the livelihoods of hundreds of employees, but is not prepared to part with his personal assets or interrupt his preferred business models to meet his obligations.