In a desperate move to try to regain relevance following serious lapses of memory in the Royal Commission into trade union corruption, former National Secretary of the AWU Bill Shorten is visiting Townsville to shift blame from the AWU for not supporting workers at Queensland Nickel, Clive Palmer, the leader of the Palmer United Party in the House of Representatives, said in Canberra today.
“Ben Swan and the AWU refused to pressure the Labor State Government to provide support to enable Queensland Nickel to continue to employ its full workforce in Townsville,’’ Mr Palmer said.
“In 2009 BHP was going sack 100 percent of the workforce when the nickel price was $7. Now it’s $3.80 and because of the good work the company has implemented, it is still in production providing 550 jobs for its employees and an additional 1600 jobs in Townsville.
“It was the Labor Premier and the three Labor State Members in Townsville that refused to even meet with the management of Queensland Nickel despite the fact that Queensland Nickel is the largest employer in North Queensland and had spent over four billion dollars in North Queensland since 2009,’’ he said.
“While companies outside Queensland Nickel have provided $250 million dollars in assets as security to support QNI and workers’ entitlements, the Queensland Labor Government has offered nothing other than advice on how to fill in applications for jobs that don’t exist.
“Bill Shorten and his AWU are a disgrace. They have done nothing for 22,000 jobs lost in Queensland.
“Shorten should go back to the Commission and tell them the truth about the AWU and its corruption which puts workers’ interests last.
“I challenge the Premier to match my support for the company and put up or shut up. She just doesn’t understand business or care about workers. The last thing Townsville needs is politicians grandstanding over workers’ misfortune,’’ Mr Palmer said.