I don't know whether to feel sorry for Clive Palmer or not. One thing is for sure, his party is one of the big losers from the failure of Queensland Nickel. That is because it will almost certainly have to give back at least part of the $21.5 million in donations it has received.
Putting the company into administration meant that the provisions of the Corporations Act governing insolvent companies came into play. Among other things, payments to certain entities, like the Palmer United Party, which were made in the previous two to four years can be declared void.
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That means the PUP will almost certainly have to pay back the $288,000 donation it received at the end of December.
That could just be the start though. If the $21.1 million paid to the PUP in the previous two years is found to be "uncommercial" or an "unreasonable director-related" payment, and the company was insolvent at the time, then that money will also have to be paid back.
Mr Palmer could try to argue that the political donations were commercial because they funded him to vote for the repeal of the carbon tax. But I don't think he will want to go there. The perception he was there to favour his own interests, and not the people's, would be fatal.
Of course, Mr Palmer says he kicked the tin for $2.5 million to cover workers' pay over Christmas. If so, that is very good of him, but it won't save his party from having to refund the money it has received.
The only way out of this is for the company to avoid ultimately going into liquidation. That means Mr Palmer will have to do a deal to pay out the company's creditors. Frankly that doesn't seem likely; if it was, he would have done so by now.
The big issue is when Queensland Nickel actually became insolvent.
Mr Palmer says the company's problems are attributable to the falling nickel price and the state government's refusal to bail him out. But for a small rally in the middle of 2014, the nickel price has been in a long slide for nearly all of the last five years. This time five years ago, nickel was fetching around US$13 per pound. Now it is fetching about US$3.80 per pound. At what point in this slide did Clive Palmer's people realise they had a problem?
We will need to wait a month or two for the administrators to provide the answer to this. That answer will undoubtedly be political dynamite.
So Clive Palmer loses, his party loses, the workers lose, and the local economy loses.
About the only winners I can see are the AWU. They are busy running around making themselves look important, carrying on about protecting workers' entitlements.
The AWU very well know that workers entitlements for unpaid superannuation, holiday pay and wages are priority debts paid out of the assets of the company. That means they get paid ahead of nearly everyone else. The administrators know this too, and they scrupulously apply the law.
No amount of carry-on from the AWU is going to get one cent more for workers than they are entitled to under the law. All the union officials are doing is profiting politically from the misery of the workers they claim to represent. It's a pretty shabby act, perhaps the shabbiest of all.