Clive agrees to pay laid off workers

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Clive Palmer says he will pay any outstanding entitlements for workers laid off from his Townsville nickel refinery, three years after they lost their jobs.

The businessman told reporters today he would cover the costs while also maintaining none of his companies were responsible for sacking anyone.

Queensland Nickel owed debts of about $300 million to creditors when it collapsed in 2016.

The announcement comes as Mr Palmer stages a potential political comeback.

He is waiting to find out if his own United Australia Party will pick him as its candidate for the Townsville seat of Herbert, currently held by Labor incumbent Cathy O’Toole by 37 votes.

Mr Palmer is seeking to restart the refinery, at a time when the price of nickel is rising.

“This is not about politics, this is an announcement about the industry in this town and jobs,” he said.

“We think our investment should be welcomed, as an Australian, as Queensland’s richest person, and we employ hundreds of people in the state.”

Taxpayers stumped up $70 million owed to Queensland Nickel workers; money that liquidators have been tasked with recouping.

Liquidators are also trying to claw back money owed to creditors.

The managing director of Mr Palmer’s QNI Resources company issued a statement as he addressed media in Townsville to call on the state government to approve plans to get the refinery back up and running.

Nui Harris urged Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk’s government to expedite port, rail and plant infrastructure proposals.

“Now is the time for the Premier and her Government to do their part and get behind securing approvals so the refinery can be recommissioned and the good people of Townsville can have jobs,” Mr Harris said.

He said Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill also needed to get behind the project so jobs could be created immediately.

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