Clive’s cruise snaps a bit rich for staff

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - LUCY SMITH lucy. smith@ news. com. au

NEWS of Clive Palmer’s in­laws liv­ing it up in Bul­garia has an­gered sacked Queens­land Nickel work­ers still get­ting their lives back on track.

Sacked worker An­drew Har­ris said it was a slap in the face to see Mr Palmer’s fam­ily liv­ing the high life while gov­ern­ment liq­uida­tors were try­ing to re­coup mil­lions of dol­lars paid to 761 QN em­ploy­ees re­trenched amid the nickel re­fin­ery com­pany’s demise.

Mr Palmer gave $ 7.6 mil­lion of QN money to his fa­ther- in- law Alexan­der Sokolov in Novem­ber 2012, the same day he al­legedly trans­ferred al­most $ 43 mil­lion to his po­lit­i­cal party, friends, fam­ily and other fam­ily busi­nesses.

It was re­vealed yes­ter­day Mr Sokolov and his wife Stiliyana own at least two prop­er­ties in Bul­garia and travel fre­quently to Aus­tralia.

Mr Sokolov spent the past month cruis­ing the Mediter­ranean with Mr Palmer and other fam­ily mem­bers.

The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment is still chas­ing Mr Palmer over mil­lions of dol­lars in un­paid en­ti­tle­ments.

“It frus­trates me ex­tremely. I re­cently saw on Clive’s Face­book page a re­porter has found him in Venice and tried to quiz him over the Queens­land Nickel saga, and he tried to change the sub­ject and make it all about Ru­pert Mur­doch,” Mr Har­ris said yes­ter­day. “Per­son­ally I don’t think ( the Gov­ern­ment) will ever see ( the money), but I hope they pur­sue it as hard as they can.”

The Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment has paid out $ 66.54 mil­lion to 761 work­ers un­der the Fair En­ti­tle­ment Guar­an­tee Act.

Gov e r n ment - a p p o i n t e d liq­uida­tors have launched a court bid to re­cover the funds.

Mr Palmer has de­nied any wrong­do­ing.

For­mer QN worker Shaun Bramwell said it was frus­trat­ing to see Mr Palmer’s fam­ily cruise the Mediter­ranean.

Mr Bramwell, who re­ceived about $ 50,000 through the gov­ern­ment en­ti­tle­ments scheme, said he was not sure the Gov­ern­ment would ever see the money.

He said he was still owed about $ 4000 in en­ti­tle­ments.

“I don’t ex­pect to see that. If I see it, it’s a bonus, but I’m not hang­ing on it be­cause I don’t ex­pect to see it,” he said.

Since the col­lapse of QN in Jan­uary last year, Mr Bramwell has gained sea­sonal work as a sugar cane lo­co­mo­tive driver. He said he en­joyed the job but has not had the fi­nan­cial sta­bil­ity of full- time work.

Mr Har­ris has also been left with a $ 4000 short­fall, hav­ing been paid out $ 52,000 of the $ 56,000 owed to him.

He has strug­gled to find full- time work in Townsville and trav­els 1000km a week to run his par­ents’ busi­ness.

Main pic­ture: AN­DREW PAR­SONS/ i- IM­AGES

CRUISE CON­TROL: Clive Palmer in Venice as part of his hol­i­day cruise; for­mer Queens­land Nickel work­ers An­drew Har­ris ( be­low left) and Shaun Bramwell ( be­low right).

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