Sunshine Coast MP Clive Palmer is facing further questions over Queensland Nickel.
Sunshine Coast MP Clive Palmer is facing further questions over Queensland Nickel.

Four Corners hits back at Palmer

UPDATE: Even before tonight's episode of ABC Four Corners - which will look into Clive Palmer's dealings at the Queensland Nickel refinery - hit the airways the embattled MP had gone on the offensive. 

In a media release, first issued on Sunday Mr Palmer claimed the national broadcaster had not even offered him an interview before deciding to air its investigation. 

"Mr Palmer has offered Four Corners a live interview. Four Corners refused to allow Mr Palmer to appear on the program when it is broadcast to answer any allegation," a Palmer United Party media release claimed. 

"Such refusal merely confirms Four Corners' lack of willingness to deal with the truth and its determination to run a biased broadcast not in accordance with its charter."

However the reporter that worked on the report, Hayden Cooper has hit back via Twitter, posting text messages which purport to show Mr Palmer was offered a chance to speak but declined. 

 

 

The screenshot of texts the reporter claims to have sent to Mr Palmer show a very clear attempt to get the Fairfax MP in front of the camera. 

"I am away for the rest of this week," was one of Palmer's replies.

"I won't be available for the program," he said later. 

 

EARLIER: SUNSHINE Coast MP Clive Palmer approved millions of dollars of spending at the Queensland Nickel refinery despite claims he had retired from the business three years ago, the ABC is reporting.

The ABC's Four Corners program says most of the approvals came from Mr Palmer's email alias Terry Smith.

They include:

  • An $8 million contract for haulage and mining works
  • A $6.3 million nickel mining contract
  • A $1 million approval to operate turbo mist fans
  • A $680,000 contract for a new SAP finance system
  • A $394,000 contract with Microsoft

Mr Palmer reportedly refused expenditure on a maintenance inspection of the refinery's oil pipeline, which runs underground for 25 kilometres to the Townsville port, despite warnings that the move was risky.

The Sunshine Coast MP has taken to social media to hit out over the program, saying it "contains a number of factual errors and if broadcast will cause substantial damage" to himself.

"In relation to Queensland Nickel Pty Ltd, the facts are that Queensland Nickel has never given loans to Mr Palmer or his companies. Any reports to the contrary are false and have been written to cause malicious damage.

"Queensland Nickel employees who were first made redundant were paid two weeks wages in advance while their redundancy and entitlements were being determined,'' Mr Palmer's PR team claimed on Facebook.

"The administrator made the decision not to pay entitlements, not Mr Palmer or any person working for Queensland Nickel. The administrator continued to trade the company for over a month following that decision with Queensland Nickel funds.

"On March 3, Queensland Nickel ceased to be the manager of the Queensland Nickel Joint Venture. The administrator refused to transfer the joint venture bank account to the new manager as required by the joint venture agreement.

"Mr Palmer had obtained a $23 million line credit which when added to the joint venture bank account would have kept the refinery open avoiding further redundancies.

"Instead the administrator decided to sack all employees and close the refinery. If those people had kept their jobs they would not been eligible for entitlements.

"The accrual of entitlements mostly took place under Queensland Government and BHP ownership, which they failed to provide.

"Any suggestion that Mr Palmer has or could have any liability is false and any serious suggestion that he for whatever reason has done anything but act honourably is untrue."

"As is normal process, there is a report being released to creditors in the coming week by the administrators.

"For the ABC to broadcast prior to the release of such a report is clearly designed to cause serious damage to Mr Palmer for an improper purpose.

"Why does the ABC choose to broadcast before and not after the release of the report?

"Mr Palmer has offered Four Corners a live interview. Four Corners refused to allow Mr Palmer to appear on the program when it is broadcast to answer any allegation.

"Such refusal merely confirms Four Corners' lack of willingness to deal with the truth and its determination to run a biased broadcast not in accordance with its charter.

"Mr Palmer, like any Australian, should be entitled to a fair go.

"The real truth is that as world commodity prices have collapsed and more than 22,000 Queenslanders in the mining sector have lost their jobs, neither the State nor Federal Governments have had a credible response.

"The Chinese Government has provided 30 billion yuan of assistance to its metal industry and the Canadian Government is waiving electricity costs for their mineral processors to save jobs. The legitimate question is how can Australian industry compete with that?

"The absence of similar coverage of the shareholders of the operations at Whyalla or the companies of the 22,000 sacked Queensland workers raises the question of whether the ABC is running this story for political purposes.

"Considering the closeness of the current election and the lack of coverage by the ABC of the Palmer United Party's political achievements, there appears to be serious issue of bias."

More than 230 workers were sacked at the refinery earlier this year before it went into liquidation, putting 550 jobs in limbo.

Last month, Mr Palmer's Queensland Nickel Sales took back control of the Yabula refinery, bypassing administrators.

Queensland Nickel Sales secured $23 million in funding to continue operating the refinery after unsuccessful appeals to the Queensland government for a loan. 

At the time, Queensland Treasurer Curtis Pitt said Clive Palmer should detail the effects on workers and creditors.



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