Controversial businessman Clive Palmer has announced a return to politics, while hundreds of his former workers are still owed money, and taxpayers are left to foot the bill for their unpaid entitlements.
Mr Palmer held a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra yesterday, announcing that he had renamed the Palmer United Party – the United Australia Party – and that he plans to run candidates in every seat.
The political comeback was Australia’s worst kept secret, with big fluorescent yellow billboards featuring Mr Palmer’s face and the slogan ‘Make Australia Great’ appearing all over the country.
Refinery closed owing millions to workers
Mr Palmer’s north Queensland nickel refinery was shut down more than two years ago, owing millions of dollars of unpaid entitlements to hundreds of workers.
Liquidators have been chasing a complex web of Palmer-controlled private companies that owned and operated the refinery, but to date, Palmer has resisted paying back any money.
In a bizarre interview with Leigh Sales on the ABC’s 7.30 program last month, Mr Palmer denied that he owed his workers anything.
“I don’t owe them any money,” he said. “That’s the reality.
“It’s not that I can’t pay people, it’s that I don’t owe people”
Speaking to 7.30, former refinery worker Sam Larkin said she received part of what she was owed thanks to the taxpayer-funded Federal scheme that guarantees employee entitlements, but claims she is still owed $8,000.
“Which isn’t a lot of money to Clive Palmer, I know, but to an average Australian worker, that’s an enormous amount of money, and it makes a big difference to your life,” she told the program.
Mr Palmer criticised a decision by the Queensland Supreme Court to freeze his assets, and blamed the liquidators for not paying the workers what they are owed.
“This is all about a witch-hunt, about me as an Australian, daring to challenge the two ruling parties of this country who work hard to keep you, the people of Australia down, and it’s just a witch-hunt,” he told Leigh Sales.
“If you read the Australian Financial Review, I have assets of $2.9 billion here in Australia.
“I earned my money hard.”
‘He should pay back what he owes, and then go away’
Miles Heffernan, Director of Litigation at Industrial Relations Claims, said Mr Palmer should pay back what he owes.
“This bloke who claims to be a billionaire, happily abandoned his loyal workers, and left it up to the taxpayer to pay them what they were owed,” he said.
“Even so, many workers are still out of pocket, while big Clive spends a fortune on self-promotion in some sort of narcissistic drive to become relevant again, and to get back onto the national political stage.
“He should shut his big mouth, pay back what he owes, and then go away.
“You don’t make Australia great by not paying your workers, and you certainly don’t make it great by letting another fringe lunatic into parliament.”
If you haven’t been paid your proper wages or entitlements, we can help. Please call Industrial Relations Claims today on 1300 853 837.
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