Clive Palmer says the federal government is pursuing him over unpaid worker entitlements because it wants him out of parliament.
The government will cover some of the $73.9 million owed to almost 800 workers sacked from Mr Palmer’s Queensland Nickel refinery in Townsville.
But it is seeking a special-purpose liquidator to target assets held by Mr Palmer and his companies, in the hope taxpayers’ money can be clawed back.
In announcing the claw-back plan, employment minister Michaelia Cash said it had nothing to do with Mr Palmer’s position as an MP, and everything to do with his business conduct at Queensland Nickel.
But Mr Palmer says that’s utter rubbish.
“It can only be for political purposes. Here we have the executive of the federal government ordering the investigation of a political opponent,” he told AAP on Friday.
“Look at the coverage of the Clive Palmer thing in Australia compared with all the other jobs lost (in the resources sector). There is an election coming up.”
Earlier this week, Queensland Nickel’s administrators said the company should be liquidated and pointed to evidence of gross, and possibly criminal, mismanagement.
FTI Consulting said there was evidence to suggest Mr Palmer used Queensland Nickel as a “piggy bank” to fund his other businesses and interests, and that while acting as a shadow director made decisions that were clearly detrimental to the company.
But Mr Palmer says the FTI report is factually inaccurate and derogatory, and he has flagged Supreme Court action against the administrators.
He says he has been denied the presumption of innocence, and did not do what the administrators have suggested.
“At no time did I, or any company associated with me, take money that was beneficially owned by Queensland Nickel – for any purpose,” Mr Palmer said.
“I haven’t been charged with anything, I haven’t been offered due process, or natural justice. These are dangerous things for any citizen and it’s dangerous for our country.”