Government steps in to pay entitlements to Queensland Nickel workers

Media Release
  • Minister for Employment
  • Minister for Women
  • Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service
  • Senator for Western Australia

Minister for Employment Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash today announced the Australian Government will step in and pay outstanding entitlements to retrenched Queensland Nickel workers.

“The release earlier this week of the Administrator’s report to creditors makes it clear there is no rescue option on the table for Queensland Nickel Refinery,” Minister Cash said.

“Based on this report, I have now exercised my discretion to enable Queensland Nickel workers to access a contribution towards their unpaid entitlements through the Fair Entitlements Guarantee.

“It is extremely disappointing that the Queensland Nickel Joint Venture Partners have not taken care of this business responsibility to look after their workers.

The Fair Entitlements Guarantee (FEG) provides financial assistance to cover certain unpaid employment entitlements to eligible employees who lose their job due to the liquidation or bankruptcy of their employer.

“A team of Department of Employment FEG representatives will be on the ground in Townsville next week to support workers with the FEG claim process,” Minister Cash said.

Information sessions will be hosted at the Mercure Hotel in Townsville and details will be notified to workers through the Administrator shortly. Workers will receive information about how FEG works, the assistance they can expect to receive under FEG and how to lodge a claim. A local claim drop-in centre is also being established to support workers to lodge their claims online to help speed up the process for applications.

“The Government’s immediate priority is to ensure affected employees receive appropriate support to find new employment. We have already announced immediate help in the form of an additional $2.4 million structural adjustment programme to support retrenched workers to get back in the workforce as quickly as possible.

“I’m confident that FEG will ensure workers receive unpaid entitlements quickly, which means the workers will no longer have to endure the financial uncertainty of waiting around for the Queensland Nickel Joint Venture Partners to do what they should have done from the start” Minister Cash said.

“As FEG is now part of the solution for workers, the Government will examine the range of actions available under the FEG Recovery Programme to ensure the many suspect issues identified by Administrators are fully investigated.

“Tax payers across Australia can rest assured that the Government will use every power at its disposal to ensure the corporate dealings of this Joint Venture arrangement are thoroughly investigated and responsible company officers are held to account.”

The Government will be seeking the appointment of a Special Purpose Liquidator, who will work alongside the appointed Liquidator to maximise the recovery of monies to meet employee entitlements. Subject to the Court’s consent, the Government will be nominating Mr Stephen Parbery from PPB Advisory to accept the appointment as the Special Purpose Liquidator.

“We are doing this because of the unique and alarming circumstances in this case.

“The Government wants to send a clear message that in appropriate cases the Government is prepared to step in to assist in ensuring that employee entitlements are recovered in full from any companies or individuals that have profited from the endeavours of hard working Australians.

For more information about FEG visit: https://www.employment.gov.au/fair-entitlements-guarantee-feg

To learn more about the support for workers under the Queensland Nickel Structural Adjustment Programme visit: https://www.employment.gov.au/help-workers-who-have-recently-lost-their-job

To learn more about jobactive visit: http://www.jobactive.gov.au/

For more information

Media mailbox: media@employment.gov.au