Government warned to buy time for Qld Nickel or foot the bill
29 January 2016: Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter has used the first Creditors’ Meeting of Queensland Nickel to urge both the Federal and State Governments to guarantee more time for the Townsville Refinery to find a buyer – warning otherwise they would foot huge bills if the refinery closed.
The first Creditor’s Meeting was held in Townsville today and attended by over 1,000 people including creditors, former workers and members of the public. At the company’s principal asset the Yabulu Nickel Refinery nearly 240 workers have been laid off and the jobs of hundreds of others are uncertain. A vast number of those employees live in Mr Katter’s electorate of Kennedy.
As well as calling on State and Federal Governments to guarantee time to find a buyer for the Refinery, Mr Katter reiterated his concerns about the appointment of FTI Consulting (FTI) as Administrators – who have charged creditors $10.5 million in fees in the case of another failed venture, Kagara Mine.
“My knowledge of how FTI operates is that they will just close the refinery and we don’t want to be hit with a fait accompli from FTI – because it’s 1,000 jobs,” Mr Katter said.
“So we want the Government to give us an assurance that we can buy time – because my experience is that every time the refinery’s gone broke, give it two to three years and you can always find a buyer.
“In the 50 years that I’ve been in politics and in mining, I’ve seen this 100 times – the metal prices will come back.
“But to lose a Refinery of this significance because of a quick, short, jab in the market would be a colossal stupidity by the Governments of Australia.
“I can understand the Government not wanting to create precedent, but there is the little matter of the cleanup bill.
“When Century Mine in NW Queensland shut its pipeline the cleanup bill for the Government was $23 million – and that was not the mining site or a processing site – just the pipline.
“So Mr State Government if you don’t stand behind us and buy us two or three years – you’ll be hit with an environmental bill for $200 million.
“And Mr Federal Government, if we close you’re going to lose $300 million a year, so wouldn’t there be some benefit in keeping the project open?”
Mr Katter said public meetings were being called by creditors over the closure crisis, with further details to follow.
“Creditors are calling a public meeting and we will plead with the State and Federal members of Parliament to back us in those meetings – as they will both be huge losers if the refinery closes down.
“And if they don’t show up we will address their empty chairs as people who can’t be bothered to turn up for the people in this desperate plight,” Mr Katter said.