PM solution shorts out
THE Clive Palmer saga is a national embarrassment and Townsville, unfortunately, is at the centre of it.
While the larger- than- life former billionaire has been enjoying holidays in Europe with his family, more than 800 Townsville families have been left in the wake of the closure of Mr Palmer’s Yabulu nickel refinery, which was then the city’s largest private employer.
Almost 18 months later, the sorry- looking plant remains in shut- down mode despite continual promises by Mr Palmer that it would reopen this year.
Mr Palmer has repeatedly denied any responsibility for the plant’s closure and has attacked the Federal Government and Queensland Nickel’s administrators for what he maintains is a politically driven witch hunt.
Whether he is at fault for the calamity at Yabulu is a matter for the courts to decide, but even that has had its twists and turns, as we have seen play out in recent times.
One week a trim- looking Mr Palmer appeared on weekend television talking about how fit he felt, then days later the same man, dishevelled and clutching a sick bag, claimed he was too sick to answer questions about Queensland Nickel.
Then last month Mr Palmer was spied catching a plane with up to 20 of his closest relatives and heading off on a European trip.
Meanwhile, his nephew Clive Mensink, whom it is claimed was solely responsible for the management of Queensland Nickel, has been missing in action on an indefinite overseas holiday that shows no signs of ending any time soon, despite there having been two arrest warrants issued to compel him to answer questions about the company’s dealings.
Now liquidator PPB Advisory has launched a lawsuit against both Queensland Nickel Clives, seeking almost half a billion dollars over alleged breaches of their duties as directors and alleged insolvent trading.
The claim has been lodged with the Supreme Court and also seeks to claw back Queensland Nickel funds from Mr Palmer’s other companies, Mr Mensink and two mystery women in Hong Kong and Kyrgyzstan.
A scriptwriter would struggle to write a more dramatic thriller, but it appears that at least for Townsville, the ending will be sad.
The deteriorating plant at Yabulu will be a cold reminder to Townsville residents and especially workers of the tragedy that befell one of the North’s biggest companies.
For the sake of Townsville’s jobless and its reputation, hopefully another company will take over the plant and get it going again. I AM a retired engineer with a long- time professional experience in the generation of electricity from all conventional means – steam/ gas/ diesel/ hydro, all of which can cover for renewable energy from solar and wind including battery storage when these cannot deliver especially at times of high industrial demands, and to counter balance the instability of green power.
It is time that the Federal Government explains to the people of Australia, based on the Finkel report in clear terms, what action it will take to resolve our national electricity crisis, in the short and long term to avoid the loss of Australian industry and its associated workforce, and stop the ever- escalating cost of electricity for the general people.
It is noted that one of our Prime Minister’s long- term solutions is to spend $ 2 billion to establish a hydro pump storage system as part of the existing Snowy Mountains complex. There is already in the pipeline in North Queensland at the old Kidston gold mine and associated water dam, a proposed solar farm and associated hydro pump storage.
In this case, the solar farm will provide during the day the electricity to pump the water back up to the top reservoir, in preparation for the system to contribute electricity back into the grid when the solar is not available to meet demand.
However in the case of the proposed Snowy system, where are they going to obtain the spare electricity to power the pumps to pump the water back up to the top reservoir in preparation for the system to contribute electricity back into the grid?
This scheme has problems.
1. Objections from the people downstream of the existing dams, should water be wasted.
2. Where will the spare electricity to power the pumps come from?
Gone are the days of plenty of two major available cheap coal- fired power stations to provide electricity during the low power demand to replenish the top reservoir for hydro power to generate back to meet grid power peak demand.
It would seem to me that our Prime Minister will bloat our national debt by an additional $ 2 billion purely for politics. S. BRISCHETTO,