Two-hundred and thirty-seven workers from the Yabulu refinery near Townsville have been made redundant after Clive Palmer's Queensland Nickel company was placed under voluntary administration.
Chair of Townsville’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Corporation, Angelina Akee, says the Palmer United Party (PUP) must now give back to the community following allegations that Mr Palmer used company money to fund his own political regime.
“I’m not a fan of Palmer and his political views but he has created employment for a lot of people here. However, he now has to sell off his assets."
"Get rid of your car and put the money back into the refinery. Your assets aren’t that important when 200 or so men are losing their jobs,” said Mrs Akee.
During the 2014–2015 fiscal year, Queensland Nickel donated nearly six million dollars to Clive Palmer’s political party.
And just last month the company made another donation of $290,000 a fortnight before 237 workers were sacked.
The Australian Workers' Union (AWU) says Queensland Nickel is $70 million dollars in debt.
The AWU’s Northern District secretary, Cowboy Stockham, told NITV News that “right now, there is no money available at all in Queensland Nickel to pay entitlements to the 237 workers.”
He said there are many Indigenous workers at the refinery who are still in shock and yet to call.
Mrs Akee believes that the impact on Indigenous workers is far more serious.
“Some of our mob don’t know how to go about getting employment in the broader community. It’s so competitive now and even harder if you don’t have the right training.”
She says unemployment rates for Aboriginal people in the region are already too high.
“The Government needs to create more training programs to help our people, especially those struggling with the high cost of education.”
Townsville Mayor Jenny Hill has called on the Palaszczuk Government to consider an assistance package for the industry.
"It must be a priority for the state and federal governments to ensure the workers who have been made redundant receive their full entitlements and the support promised includes financial advice and employment support," she said.
The Queensland Government has already announced its plan to bring forward a multi-million dollar road and public works project to generate 180 jobs in North Queensland.