50 most powerful
Who is No. 1?
NORTH Queensland’s most powerful person is Clive Palmer, the billionaire mining magnate, who single-handedly saved 1100 jobs at the Yabulu nickel refinery.
BHP Billiton, the previous owner, had security guards on their way to Townsville as Mr Palmer inked the deal with the Bligh Government to take over Yabulu.
Just before Christmas, to celebrate the plant’s $ 200 million profit, Mr Palmer gave his top 55 staff a new Mercedes Benz, while the other 1050 employees were gifted week-long holidays to Fiji.
But his influence doesn’t just extend to saving the livelihoods of a thousand families. Mr Palmer is very close to the LNP in Queensland but he also has the ear of the ALP Cabinet.
When Big Clive talks, people listen. And he has the power and wealth to make life difficult for his opponents. Mr Palmer’s elevation to the top spot means Cowboys chairman and millionaire property developer Laurence Lancini drops from the top spot to number two.
However Mr Lancini has been far from idle, continuing to develop projects, albeit in other areas of North Queensland because he sees the Townsville council’s high infrastructure charges as reason to go elsewhere.
His desire to turn the fortunes of the Cowboys around was seen late last year when CEO Peter Parr was deposed, going back to football manager, and former News Limited executive Peter Jourdain was given the top job.
It’s always a controversial list – and by necessity it’s peppered with politicians although, interestingly, two private businessmen fill the top spots – and it’s sure to create plenty of debate.