Queensland Nickel (QN) will make more than 230 positions redundant at its Yabulu refinery north of Townsville.
That’s around a third of its workforce.
Both the government and the Liberal-National Party opposition have rejected recent appeals by owner Clive Palmer for assistance in the face of low metals prices.
Blame was placed at the feet of the state government for failing to prop up the operation by QN managing director Clive Mensink.
“The Queensland Government has made it clear despite the nickel price being the lowest in 15 years it has no interest in assisting Queensland Nickle in providing continued employment for over 800 families in Townsville,’’ Mr Mensink, said in Townsville today.
“This stands in contrast to the $40 million-a-year cheque the Queensland Treasury writes each year to a multinational group for their Gladstone operations.
“Because of the current nickel price and because of the failure of our own government to offer any support for our company’s continued operations in Townsville, today Queensland Nickel has been forced to make 237 workers redundant,’’ Mr Mensink said.
“With the NSW Government supporting BlueScope and action by the Chinese and Canadian Governments, there was no way Queensland Nickel could continue to employ so many people without any support from the Queensland Government.
“We only requested a $30 million guarantee to support our company’s borrowings backed by our large asset base. Queensland Nickel did not seek any money from the Government. The Treasurer should not put politics above people and their livelihoods,’’ he said.
Mr Mensink said it was a sad state of affairs that only industry in the south east corner of Queensland received the attention of the Government. He said North Queenslanders had every right to feel disappointed the Government had turned its back on them.
“Since BHP announced the closure of Queensland Nickel six years ago we fought hard to keep Townsville going,’’ he said.
“Clive Palmer only supported Queensland Nickel and Townsville because of the request of former Labor Premier Anna Bligh. It is ironic that her Labor successor’s lack of compassion and caring for Townsville families has directly cost 237 jobs in Townsville.
“The Premier and all Labor State Members from the Townsville area have repeatedly refused to even meet with me to discuss this matter.
“We now need to concentrate on ensuring the 2000 additional jobs that Queensland Nickel operations sustain in Townsville can continue.
“I will be taking steps in the next few days to do whatever it takes to continue Queensland Nickel’s contribution to the Townsville community.
“The Under Treasurer, Jim Murphy, a former canberra resident, said the Queensland Government would support workers, well it hasn’t. The Under Treasurer and the Labor Government he worked for have totally failed to act on helping workers.
“I would like to thank those men and women of Queensland Nickel who we are losing today for their dedicated service and the contribution they made to the company.
“We will not forget you however we must now concentrate on doing all that we can in future to continue our operations in Townsville,’’ Mr Mensink said.