Treasurer Curtis Pitt says the Turnbull Government needs to extend the eligibility of its Fair Entitlements Guarantee (FEG) to cover workers now out of a job because of Clive Palmer’s corporate restructure.
Mr Pitt said if Mr Palmer had rearranged the nickel refinery’s corporate structure because he wanted to see it keep operating, he needed to clarify the future of former employees now without jobs.
“Last month, the Premier told Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull that 237 QN employees sacked in January were not eligible for FEG because it applied only to businesses in liquidation,” Mr Pitt said.
“Now 550 workers have lost their jobs because of the rearrangement of Mr Palmer’s companies managing and operating the Yabulu refinery.
“But under current rules they will not be eligible for FEG payments until the previous management company Queensland Nickel is liquidated.
“Clive Palmer has rearranged the corporate structure of the Yabulu refinery.
“When he did so the state government called on him to fully explain its impact on workers and creditors. He has not done that.
“He changed the corporate structure because he said he wanted to keep the refinery going, which means keeping people in jobs to run the refinery.
“But today’s events mean there are now more questions for him to answer. Workers and creditors need to know where they stand,” Mr Pitt said.
Mr Pitt said the Federal Government should not continue to turn its back on North Queensland.
“The Palaszczuk Government has fast-tracked $210 million of projects to drive 480 full-time equivalent jobs in the Townsville under the State Government’s Accelerated Works Program,” he said.
“The Palaszczuk Government has also previously committed $100 million for the development of a new stadium in Townsville. The Turnbull Government has yet to agree to a matching $100 million.
“In fact the Turnbull Government is yet to do much at all for North Queensland.”
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Background: FEG assistance can be paid for five categories of unpaid employment entitlements only:
- Wages up to 13 weeks of unpaid or underpaid wages ending at the earlier of: the date your employment ended, or the first date an Insolvency Practitioner was appointed
(provided the Insolvency Practitioner had power to manage the business affairs of the employer)
- annual leave
- long service leave
- payment in lieu of notice — maximum of 5 weeks
- redundancy pay — where redundancy is payable under the governing instrument, the amount legally owing is payable, but is subject to a cap of 4 weeks per full year of service.