Palmer United Party MP Clive Palmer has denied he approved millions of dollars of spending at Queensland Nickel as a shadow director of the company before it went into administration.
Documents cited by ABC’s Four Corners program on Monday alleged Mr Palmer had the final say in the use of millions of dollars of Queensland Nickel funds, at a time when he was not listed as a director.
The ABC reported the funds were signed off using Mr Palmer’s email alias, Terry Smith, after he entered politics in 2013 as the federal member for the Sunshine Coast seat of Fairfax.
According to the ABC, an $8 million contract for haulage and mining works and a $6.3 million nickel mining contract were among the projects signed off by Mr Palmer using the email address.
On Tuesday, the administrators of Mr Palmer’s Queensland Nickel recommended liquidating the company in a report to creditors.
The company, which previously ran the MP’s Yabulu nickel refinery, owes in excess of $100 million to creditors, including hundreds of workers who have been laid off.
Former Queensland Nickel worker Sam Larkins told the ABC it was widely known Mr Palmer was involved with the company, long after he claimed to have stepped back.
Speaking later the same night on Lateline, Mr Palmer denied he was the final approver on amounts of more than $500.
Four Corners executive producer Sally Neighbour posted on Twitter that he looked “rattled” and that he “unconvincingly denies everything”. But many on social media disagreed. As one Twitter user put it, Mr Palmer’s performance was “purely Teflon“.
Four Corners factually incorrect, Palmer says
Mr Palmer’s Monday night appearance on Lateline followed a public clash between the politician and the ABC, where he claimed the network turned down his offer for a live interview.
Four Corners replied the program format did not allow for on-air interviews, although they had repeatedly contacted him for a pre-recorded chat. Mr Palmer’s appearance on Lateline was announced on Monday afternoon.
In a letter to ABC managing director Mark Scott, Mr Palmer claimed it would “cause substantial damage to Mr Palmer” and “needs to be corrected”.
He also posted a series of tweets questioning the story.
‘Clive is a bully’
Former Palmer United Party members, Senator Glenn Lazarus and former Queensland MP Alex Douglas, said Mr Palmer had a forceful management style.
“If you’re continually berated and, I guess, yelled at, that’s got to be a form of bullying and that was just something I couldn’t tolerate for a long period of time,” Senator Lazarus told Four Corners.
Dr Douglas agreed: “I think Glenn’s right. I think that, at times, Clive is a bully.”
Senator Lazarus said Mr Palmer forbade PUP senators dealing with government ministers.
“He would rant and rave … I saw that quite a bit with him,” Senator Lazarus said.
“He would remind us very quickly that we knew nothing about politics, because we’d only just arrived in politics and that he’d had 40 years’ experience.”
The final report on Queensland Nickel and Mr Palmer’s involvement was expected on Tuesday.
— Lateline (@Lateline) April 11, 2016
– with ABC