Queensland Nickel Saga Continues
Queensland Nickel is a company owned by businessman and politician Clive Palmer. Queensland Nickel owns and operates the Palmer Nickel and Cobalt Refinery at Yabulu in North Queensland. On 19 January 2016 the company entered into voluntary administration. In April 2016 the companies’ creditors voted for liquidation.
Queensland Nickel Collapse History
In recent years, the company experienced financial difficulties. Despite having previously ruled-out requesting government funding, Palmer requested taxpayer-funded assistance from the Queensland Government in late 2015, however this was rejected, citing the refusal of the company to share full details with the government and its large donations to Palmer’s Palmer United Party. The company’s ownership was later transferred to a new company named Queensland Nickel Sales Pty Ltd in a joint venture between two of Clive Palmer’s companies, QNI Resources Pty Ltd and QNI Metals Pty Ltd, with the directorship going to Palmer’s nephew Clive Theodore Mesnick.
On 15 January 2016 the company terminated 237 workers. The company blamed poor nickel prices, which were at a twelve-year low, and the refusal of the Queensland Government to guarantee a loan of A$35 million for the redundancies. Despite the financial troubles, Queensland Nickel donated more than $20 million to the Palmer United Party in two years including a donation of $288,516 days before the workers were terminated.
In early April 2016 the administrators, FTI Consulting, found that the company had “incurred debts of $771 million after going insolvent in November.”
On 22 April 2016 the companies’ creditors voted to liquidate it.
The Ongoing Saga
Liquidators are trying to freeze Palmer’s assets in a $500 million court case to pay debts to Queensland Nickel creditors and sacked workers.
The Federal Court took a bold step and issued the arrest warrants for Mr Mensink, a former Queensland Nickel director, in March, after he failed to show up to answer questions about the collapse of Queensland Nickel.
As with many of these matters in Australia it has turned in to Witch Hunt that goes beyond the law, lawyers acting on behalf of Commonwealth-appointed liquidators have fronted the Supreme Court in Brisbane seeking an injunction to restrain Mr Palmer from selling or spending hundreds of millions of dollars in assets.
Palmer Will Continue to Fight
Mr Palmer told media outside court, he was beginning to think he should again stand for election.
“This is the sort of case, the sort of thing that tempts you to get back into politics, because this is a wholly political exercise against me,” he said.