Warren Lynam

Palmer defends $21m PUP donations as workers sacked

MINING magnate and Sunshine Coast MP Clive Palmer has defended donating $21 million to the Palmer United Party as the fallout continues after the loss of 237 jobs at his Townsville nickel refinery on Friday.

Mr Palmer donated the sum over the past two years to PUP but is maintaining his frustration at the Queensland Labor Government for not guaranteeing a $35 million loan for his Queensland Nickel plant.

The member for Fairfax has previously said the loan would allow the nickel refinery to trade out of its current financial battles without having to sacrifice workers.

Following the government's refusal to step in, Queensland Nickel axed workers.

Fairfax reports Mr Palmer donated $288,516 to the Palmer United Party on New Years Eve 2015, just weeks before hundreds of workers would go from the site.

Mr Palmer told ABC the donations were made before the company was in financial strife, and covered the period from June when a $73 million surplus was forecast.

"But, of course the nickel price has crashed and that didn't happen," he said.

Mr Palmer was dubbed Australia's best boss after giving away an estimated $7 million in luxury cars and international holidays as Christmas presents to workers at the refinery in 2010.


Clive Palmer at the Palmer Coolum Resort.
Clive Palmer at the Palmer Coolum Resort. Brett Wortman

Mr Palmer said despite the blood-letting, his workers had reasons to be grateful.

"We were the heroes... it's a very successful story that this place has been going for six years after BHP said it would write it off," he said.

He said Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk was to blame for the job losses.

"Anna has never had to run a business in her life," he said.

Elsewhere in Queensland, Mr Palmer is still attempting to untangle legal knots at his Palmer Coolum Resort on the Sunshine Coast.

He is embroiled in a dispute with the firm that controls about 80 timeshare villas at the resort, which he says is holding up his refurbishment plans for the currently shuttered complex.

Mr Palmer bought the Hyatt Coolum Resort for $7 million in 2010.