Shorten warns over ‘grandstanding’

Federal opposition leader Bill Shorten has expressed faith in the administrators of Clive Palmer’s Queensland Nickel, warning the government against “grandstanding” with demands for a special purpose liquidator.

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Creditors, including about 800 sacked workers, who are owed about $200 million, last week voted to liquidate the company with administrators FTI Consulting at the helm.

The federal government has said taxpayer funds drawn from the Fair Entitlements Guarantee Scheme (FEGS) will be used to pay most of the $74 million the workers are owed in entitlements.

The government also plans to seek the appointment of a special purpose liquidator to go after Mr Palmer’s assets in the hope of recouping that money.

But concerns remain that such a plan could mean less money for mum-and-dad suppliers when Queensland Nickel is carved up.

Mr Shorten said FTI was doing a good job and the process of dealing with Mr Palmer and his senior managers had been difficult.

“I just hope this is not the federal government grandstanding in terms of wanting to do something after the horse has bolted,” he said.

“I think that people – creditors – do have legitimate concerns about where the money has gone, what have been the actions of senior management.”

Mr Shorten urged the government to work with the administrator and all the creditors to secure “justice” for QN workers and so that as much money as possible was recovered.

FTI representatives are due to meet with officials this week to clarify who would pay if the government wins court approval to appoint a special liquidator to work alongside FTI.

FTI’s John Park described consultation about the government’s plan as “inadequate” and was concerned it would inevitably result in costly duplication.