Palmer: ‘I don’t care about the resort’
CLIVE Palmer has told journalists in Canberra that he does not care about his Coolum resort, claiming his business was being in the nation's capital.
Mr Palmer, who will address the National Press Club today, dismissed concerns about his resort's diminishing staff numbers which have shrunk from more than 600 when he regained management control from the Hyatt group to fewer than 100 after last Friday's latest round of redundancies.
"I'm not concerned with the staff cuts. We often have 100 staff on in December and by February, those 100 staff are gone. It's the nature of tourism," Mr Palmer said.
The Member for Fairfax's comments are a far cry from those he made in 2011 after buying the property.
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At the time he said the purchase of the then Hyatt Regency allowed him to help a tourism sector struggling as a result of the economic downturn.
"We have plans to increase the occupancy of the Hyatt Regency and make it one of the best resorts in the world," Mr Palmer said.
Occupancy at the resort last week was zero and insiders said the only occupants this week were six Queensland Nickel staff in town to further slash a workforce that has plummeted from 650 in 2012 when he drove out the Hyatt group as manager.
Of the 200 employees still at the resort last Friday, as few as 50 may remain by the end of this week.
All employees have been required to reapply for one of those jobs or lose the chance to claim redundancy payments.
Despite the luxury provided in the Hyatt's reign, the venue produced a profit for only 16 years of its 26-year existence and none in the three years before Mr Palmer's purchase from Lend Lease and Sekisui House in 2011.
Mr Palmer dismissed questions yesterday that he was considering a sale of the property and ruled out having signed it over to anyone.
Rumours have circulated that the resort was signed over to his son Michael during last year's federal election campaign.
Mr Palmer remains locked in dispute with villa owners at the resort.
Mr Palmer told reporters he was "retired from business" and was now "a full-time politician".
"I don't care about the resort. My business is being down here, in Canberra," he said yesterday.
"I'm not a businessman."
Mr Palmer: "It's traditional in the whole situation of resorts, that's what happens. But every year we put on at least 100 people in December and we lose about 100 people in February."
FACT: Staffing levels before Clive Palmer was about 650. This week it is believed it has dropped to 90.
Mr Palmer: "It's a mixture ... depends who is available to work, who wants to work and our assessment of ability."
FACT: People who have worked there since the resort opened as well as newcomers were asked to leave last week.