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Palmer starts paying out workers sacked three years ago

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Clive Palmer’s lawyer says workers sacked from Townsville’s Queensland Nickel refinery three years ago have finally started receiving their entitlement payments.

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The principal of Alexander Law, Sam Iskander, said on Monday at least 20 claims totalling around $450,000 had been paid from a $7 million trust account established earlier this month by the billionaire businessman.

Iskander said he expected a further 30 claims would be settled before Saturday’s federal election.

Palmer, who has been criticised for the delay in paying outstanding worker entitlements while spending tens of millions of dollars on election advertising for his United Australia Party, says the payment was an act of goodwill.

He has so far refused to cough up the $66 million paid to former workers by the federal government, saying this should be paid by the administrators, who wound up the refinery.

His nephew, Clive Mensink, made 218 workers redundant just three days before he placed Queensland Nickel into voluntary administration in 2016, owing about $300 million in debts.

Efforts to recover hundreds of millions of dollars owed by Queensland Nickel continue in court.

A trial to hear those claims has been set down for July 15.

Palmer is now trying to get the Yabulu refinery back up and running, at a time when the price of nickel is rising.

Palmer says he expects there could be more than 300 QN worker claims during the four-month window, after which the money would be returned to his company.

-AAP

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