Clive Palmer: Turning failure into opportunity

January 28, 2016

Clive Palmer, mining magnate, politician, “citizen of Queensland” — who accused the Greens and Greenpeace of being CIA-funded traitors — has left 237 employees of his Queensland Nickel refinery out of work and robbed of their entitlements.

Palmer asserts that he bears no personal responsibility for the workers' entitlements. The focus is now on whether Palmer was still authorising expenditure for Queensland Nickel after having announced his withdrawal as a director of the company.

A report in the Courier Mail said forensic investigators are looking over Queensland Nickel books to determine who has been authorising payments and when.

Payments that investigators must look into are the $15.2 million in donations made by Queensland Nickel to the Palmer United Party (PUP) in 2013-14, which Palmer has publicly stated will not be repaid to Queensland Nickel to provide for its workforce.

Figures from the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) released in February last year showed Queensland Nickel made the biggest declared contribution of $15.2 million to PUP, followed by $8.2 million from another of Palmer's companies, Mineralogy.

Donations for the 2014-15 year have not yet been released, so we can only speculate on the funds Queensland Nickel may have funnelled into PUP before the company's demise.

To add insult to injury, according to a report in the Australian, just days before Queensland Nickel went into voluntary administration, two of Palmer's own mining companies — Waratah Coal and China First — became secured creditors of Queensland Nickel.

In 2012, Palmer told the ABC's Australian Story: "I realised that in a lot of failures, there is a lot of opportunities".

How true this is — for the capitalist class, anyway.

The self-satire of Clive Palmer has been a gift to the media, both corporate and progressive. The latest offering from The Guardian's First Dog on the Moon takes up Palmer's behaviour as symptomatic of a capitalist system where money corrupts “our nice democratic processes”, concluding that sinking Queensland to the bottom of the ocean would be a simpler task than achieving campaign funding reform and transparency — or “dismantling capitalism”.

Jokes aside, Palmer and his ilk need to be brought to heel, but this can only happen if the rest of us recognise and wield our collective power. Whether as workers, or as communities displaced, destroyed and made ill by mining and extractive industries, or as allies of the First Nations peoples resisting land grabs for profit.

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