After announcing job cuts last week, Queensland Nickel has gone into voluntary administration marking another blow to the Palmer empire.
Last Friday managing director Clive Mensink went on record, blaming the Queensland government for refusing to prop up the Queensland Nickel business with a $35 million guarantee to support company borrowings.
Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk told the ABC the government had offered to help Palmer but he had not been transparent about his dealings with the company.
"The Government has done everything they possibly can with Queensland Nickel," she said.
"Unfortunately, Queensland Nickel was not prepared to open their books and be transparent to the Queensland Government.
"My firm view is that the priority for Mr Palmer should have been for the jobs and the workers at Queensland Nickel."
The Electoral Commission of Queensland has shown that Queensland Nickel donated $288,516 to Clive Palmer’s Palmer United Party as recently as last year, with paperwork lodged on December 31, however Palmer insisted that the donation had been made prior to June.
"In June the forecast was that we would have a $73-million surplus right now, this year," he said.
"But, of course the nickel price has crashed and that didn't happen."
Palmer argued that his refinery provided jobs for Queenslanders, with around 2500 people depending on the company for work according to Palmer, and $4.5 billion worth of investment since 2009.
“So these are very large amounts of money and over $4 billion of exports — so a $100,000 here or there is not what matters … what matters really is our continuing economic operations of the state,” he said.
Mensink has expressed optimism about the future of the company, however, saying he believed QNI had the ability to trade out of administration.
“It is my understanding that the administrators will be in contact with all stakeholders and the operations of QNI will continue on as usual,” he said.
“From our perspective it is business as usual and employees of QNI will continue productivity at this difficult time.”
“QNI plays an important role in North Queensland’s economy and I believe that will remain the case in the future once restructuring is completed in this volatile commodity environment.”
FTI Consulting has taken the role of administrator for Clive Palmer’s Nickel business, in accordance with operations handed over to the administrators John Park, Stefan Dopking, Kelly-Anne Trenfield and Quentin Olde.