Council sues Palmer's QNI over $2.5M in owed rates

TOWNSVILLE  City Council is taking Clive Palmer's shuttered Queensland Nickel refinery to court in a bid to recover millions in unpaid rates and water charges.

The council has filed legal documents in the Supreme Court seeking $2.5 million from QNI Metals Pty Ltd and QNI Resources Pty Ltd.

"The action against QNI Metals Pty Ltd and QNI Resources Pty Ltd relates to the land upon which the Yabulu refinery sits, as well as a property at Black River," a council spokesman said.

"These companies have not been paying their rates and charges since 2016, nor have they taken any steps to arrange an appropriate repayment plan with council.


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"Not only is this frustrating it is also unfair for the thousands of other landowners across Townsville who paid their rates and water charges as required, including those who paid despite their property suffering damage in the devastating monsoon event earlier this year."

According to Townsville City Council, proceedings against QNI to recover unpaid money began in 2016, the same year the company went into receivership, causing nearly 800 workers to lose their jobs.

However, it is alleged QNI claimed the value of the land upon which council had based its rates charges were wrong.

It took 12 months for the Valuer-General to review QNI's claims, before deciding in June 2017 that the land value was correct.

QNI, according to council, still disputed the land value and began formal dispute proceedings against the Valuer-General and the Department of Natural Resources.

It is understood QNI told the council it would convene a special tribunal under the Queensland Nickel Agreement Act to hear the dispute and in September 2018 dropped legal action against various State Government departments to establish a special tribunal to hear the issues.

Townsville City Council began investigating how to reactivate its debt proceedings before the February monsoon struck. The council had placed a hold on debt recovery action against all ratepayers until June 30, effectively stopping itself from going after QNI earlier.

Queensland Nickel and Clive Palmer were approached for comment but did not respond by deadline. The case will be heard in the Brisbane Supreme Court on December 10.