Resort won't close, redundancy claim is rubbish: Palmer
CLIVE Palmer has rejected any knowledge that all remaining staff at his Coolum resort have been offered redundancies.
The billionaire businessman and Fairfax MP said he had no "day-to-day" involvement in the operation of his Palmer Coolum Resort.
However, he labelled as "rubbish" claims that all 200 remaining staff had been offered redundancy packages and 80 had accepted.
"I know nothing about it, you'd have to talk to the people at the resort. I've been flat out as a Member of Parliament," Mr Palmer told The Daily.
"I'm not aware of that at all, we're not closing the resort down or anything I can tell you. It's just rubbish."
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Mr Palmer said it was common for resorts to put off staff and take them back on as the needs of their business changed.
"We've got peaks and troughs, we've gone through a peak, we're going through a trough," he said.
The Palmer Coolum Resort has been the subject of ongoing speculation since Mr Palmer bought it almost three years ago.
Staffing levels have dropped from 650 to 200 and there are claims the resort is operating at just 3% occupancy.
The resort's 12-year association with the Australian PGA golf championships has broken down and there are also reports its five restaurants are mostly idle.
Former general manager Bill Schoch, who retired late last year, yesterday said the
resort had always struggled financially - under successive owners - and had always needed financial support to remain operational.
"It's never been able to stand on its own two feet," Mr Schoch said.
"It lost $569-million before the Palmer Group bought the asset.
"The two previous owners - the Japanese, Kumagai Gumi, and also Lend Lease, the Australian company - lost $570 million, so they subsidise the local community there on the Sunshine Coast to that extent.
"The Palmer Group needed to address that and it's misleading and deceptive and malicious to say it's to do with the Palmer Group that the place has been trading at a loss, because it always has been."
Mr Schoch suggested the financial problems were linked to unpaid royalties owed to Mr Palmer by Chinese enterprise CITIC Group, from its Sino Iron project in West Australia.
"The Chinese are trying to squeeze the Palmer Group, who are owed $392 million for up to two years.
"The leadership of CITIC are acting like rogue Chinese warlords and it's about time Beijing pulled them into line."
But Mr Palmer denied the ongoing operation of the resort depended on the royalties.
"Not at all," he said. "Absolute rubbish."
Palmer Coolum Resort's new general manager, Simon Stodart, declined to comment about the reported redundancies.
"We'll address the issue next week," he said yesterday.
"We have a process with a media adviser anyway, so we'll proceed with that process."