Clive Palmer is claiming the federal government is campaigning to end his political career in its pursuit of him over the collapse of Queensland Nickel.
The government has promised to cover some of the $73.9 million owed to almost 800 workers sacked from Mr Palmer’s Townsville nickel refinery, with the company almost certain to be put into liquidation next week.
In an unprecedented move, the government will seek court permission to appoint a special-purpose liquidator to target assets held by the federal Fairfax MP and his companies, in the hope taxpayer funds can be clawed back.
Mr Palmer has scoffed at claims by Employment Minister Michaelia Cash that the move had nothing to do with his position in parliament.
“Here we have the executive of the federal government ordering the investigation of a political opponent,” he told AAP on Friday.
“They know that the polls are showing we can win three, four senators and have the balance of power. They want to crush us by any means whatsoever. They are absolutely desperate.”
Senator Cash said Mr Palmer’s company had abandoned its workforce and there was no way taxpayers were going to foot the bill if the MP had assets that could be recovered.
“Everything will be looked at,” she told reporters in Townsville.
Local Townsville Liberal MP Ewen Jones broke down as the federal assistance was announced, saying so many in the city had been plunged into desperate circumstances.
“Our city is bigger than Clive Palmer and we’ll get over him.”
Opposition workplace relations spokesman Brendan O’Connor accused Mr Jones of crying “crocodile tears”, prompting a reaction from the prime minister in China.
“Frankly, he lacks the heart, he lacks the compassion that all of us should have for people that have lost their jobs like this,” Malcolm Turnbull told reporters in Beijing.