Clive Palmer Job Losses Just the Beginning
25 January 2016 at 11:03 am
The Queensland financial counselling sector is predicting “a financial storm of Yasi proportions” will wipe out up to 1,500 jobs in the wake of news that Clive Palmer will lay off 237 workers at his Queensland Nickel refinery.
Palmer recently confirmed that the staff would lose their jobs, calling the event a “tragedy”, while claiming the company was negatively affected by a lack of support from the Queensland Government.
Indigenous Consumer Assistance Network (ICAN) financial counsellor, Ray Kent, said he believed Palmer’s announcement would be just the beginning for the Townsville community.
Kent said in the aftermath of Cyclone Yasi, the state government mobilised financial counselling services to assist people with the “devastating financial impacts” and that from a financial counselling perspective, both situations needed to be treated with equal measure.
“We have a window of about three to six months before the real financial problems will arise,” Kent said.
“The banks will offer financial hardship provisions for a while and some may pick up a bit of work here and there. But for others, it will eventually hit home that their incomes are no longer sufficient for the debt they have accumulated.”
Kent said his beliefs were rooted in the experience of delivering ICAN’s Townsville financial counselling service.
“Over the past year we’ve seen a growth in clients that have had well paid employment to find themselves out of work with a mountain of debt,” he said.
“An option that normally could assist in this instance is the sale of a vehicle or property, but Townsville’s market is so depressed that they will probably sell at a loss.”
ICAN CEO Aaron Davis said the state government needed to go beyond compiling service information and passing it on to those affected.
“The State Government needs to go beyond compiling service information and passing it on to those affected,” Davis said.
“A comprehensive plan is required, something more in line with the efforts shown after Yasi. Knowing the complexity of financial issues that come out of a disaster like Yasi, it’s really important that we have the most experienced and well trained financial counsellors providing assistance.”
Financial Counselling Association of Queensland (FCAQ) President, Jon O’Mally, said Queensland was the only state in Australia that did not receive state funding for the delivery of financial counselling services.
“At present Queensland has only 34 full-time Commonwealth funded positions compared to NSW (170) and Victora (150) state and commonwealth funded positions,” O’Mally said.
“Yet it could be argued that Queensland has the greatest need with the highest per capita rate of bankruptcies in Australia, continued downturn in the resource sector and 85 per cent of the state under drought declaration.”
Meanwhile, since it was announced that the 237 workers at Queensland Nickel would lose their jobs, Palmer has been vocal on Twitter, claiming that he invested $200 million of his own assets to keep the company afloat.
On Monday morning he challenged Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to “put up or shut up” and match his support for his company.