United Australia Party (UAP) leader Clive Palmer gestures during a media event at the Playford Hotel in Adelaide, Thursday, May 2, 2019.
United Australia Party (UAP) leader Clive Palmer gestures during a media event at the Playford Hotel in Adelaide, Thursday, May 2, 2019. AAP Image - Kelly Barnes

Clive Palmer a no-show in court

Big-spending election loser Clive Palmer was absent from court as his lawyers were lambasted by a judge overseeing Queensland Nickel's liquidation trial.

Days after his federal election campaign failed to win his party a seat, Mr Palmer today sought to introduce evidence into the trial over his company's collapse that workers have started receiving their entitlement payments.

Last month, the unsuccessful senate candidate confirmed $7 million had been paid into a trust account to pay workers laid off from his Townsville nickel refinery three years ago.

Clive Palmer was absent from court as his lawyers were lambasted by a judge overseeing Queensland Nickel’s liquidation trial.
Clive Palmer was absent from court as his lawyers were lambasted by a judge overseeing Queensland Nickel’s liquidation trial.

In Brisbane Supreme Court, Mr Palmer's barrister Chris Ward SC said the repayments were "at the very heart" of the trial.

"The nature of evidence I'm proposing … is fresh evidence in relation to very recent payments that have been made by Mr Palmer … or his companies, which affect the outstanding debts," Dr Ward said.

"There is evidence that is required to update the court as to the continuing existence of certain debts that are at the very heart of this case."

Mr Palmer, who spent tens of millions of dollars advertising his United Australia Party during the election campaign, is set to face trial in July when liquidators will attempt to claw back money owed over the collapse.

While not excluding the evidence, Justice David Jackson was critical of the manner of its "late stage" introduction.

"You can understand, in a case that has been as long and as intensively managed as this, that it sounds most unsatisfactory for someone to stand up in this point of the proceedings and say, 'We're thinking about a bunch of extra evidence we haven't told anyone about'," Justice Jackson said. "I'm concerned that at this late stage, a party comes along and says it wants to put in evidence that's not identified.

"I haven't excluded anything. I have challenged you, Mr Ward, about the lack of clarity and the way in which this is being done." Mr Palmer's appearance in court was not required and the reason for his absence was not heard.

Queensland Nickel collapsed in 2016 with debts of about $300 million and the loss of about 800 refinery jobs in Townsville.


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