Matt Bowen and Clive Palmer.
Matt Bowen and Clive Palmer.

Palmer told to negotiate port access

PAY your dues and jump through the hoops - that's the message from the State Government to Clive Palmer as the controversial businessman whips up a marketing war for the state to intervene and provide access to the Port of Townsville for his shuttered Yabulu nickel refinery.

Meanwhile, Cowboys ambassador Matt Bowen says his appearance in television ads for Mr Palmer's QNI Resources is about support for jobs and is not connected in any way to his employment with the North Queensland Cowboys.

Mr Palmer announced plans to reopen Yabulu in May but wants the Government to intervene and resume the berth the refinery previously used under licence from lessee Glencore subsidiary MIM.

Mr Palmer's former refinery management company, Queensland Nickel, now in liquidation, still owes more than $1 million in harbour dues to MIM and, indirectly, to the Port of Townsville.

The State Labor Government, the port owner, told Mr Palmer six weeks ago that access to berths at the port was a commercial matter between him and the port and repeated this yesterday.

It did not respond to the question of what it was doing to assist.

Meanwhile, Port CEO Ranee Crosby said Glencore held a lease over the berth Queensland Nickel previously used, under licences which were terminated when it went into liquidation with unpaid dues in 2016.

If Mr Palmer's companies wanted to secure new licences, they would have to sit down and talk to Glencore, which both Glencore and the port were happy to do, she said. She also confirmed Queensland Nickel's outstanding harbour dues would be a factor.

"Yes, it would be a normal requirement to pay outstanding fees before you start racking up new ones. But we have to sit down and negotiate. We are not going to negotiate through the media," she said.

Women's Day photos. Port of Townsville CEO Ranee Crosby Picture: Zak Simmonds
Women's Day photos. Port of Townsville CEO Ranee Crosby Picture: Zak Simmonds

Ms Crosby rejected claims negotiations for access would necessarily drag on, or that any new terms and conditions would be unreasonable.

"No one has put unreasonable terms to Queensland Nickel. They need to sit down and negotiate contracts," Ms Crosby said.

"Negotiations can be done quickly. It just needs willing parties."

Meanwhile, Bowen issued a statement saying he wanted to clarify his involvement in marketing-related materials for QNI Resources in support of the Yabulu refinery.

"The primary reason for my involvement in this project is to support the potential for new job creation in Townsville," Bowen said.

"I have no political aspirations or any intention to join a political party, and my involvement with QNI Resources is not connected in any way to my employment with the North Queensland Cowboys."