Queensland mining billionaire Clive Palmer has pulled out $250,000 cash from his own pocket that he said will be used as seed money for the Hope Fund, which he added should make life a bit easier for thousands of civil employees who lost their jobs recently.
The fund will be granted to members of labour unions so they can avail of counselling and re-training in order to face up with the reality of the retrenchment measures implemented by Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, Mr Palmer said.
According to the Australian Associated Press (AAP), the cash-strapped Newman Government has so far let go of 4,500 state workers and 15,000 were likely to be placed on the axing list once Queensland's new fiscal budget has been presented by September 2012.
The Hope Fund should assist these state workers to restart their lives following the stunning chain of events that practically took away decades of 'structured lives' away from them, the maverick miner said in a news briefing on Friday.
"I hope the premier, deputy premier and the treasurer will welcome this fund," Mr Palmer said.
He is also hopeful that sectors would pick up from his gesture and do their share, including the Queensland government now headed by Mr Newman.
The two are colleagues in the Liberal National Party (LNP) but have been at odds lately, with Mr Palmer highly critical of the job cuts being imposed by Mr Newman.
Economic growth must be the focused of the LNP state government to effectively address its fiscal woes and not short-term actions such as the wholesale separation of state employees, Mr Palmer earlier said
"I'm sure the LNP as an organisation is trying to do the best they can for the state of Queensland but they are being sacked by the Queensland government," he added while stressing that he remains a Liberal and supporter of LNP.
This despite his running disputes with both Coalition leader Tony Abbott and Mr Newman and his announcement Thursday that he changed his mind on joining federal politics for policy differences with the Coalition leadership.
Mr Newman, however, labelled the billionaire's recent moves as reflective of the latter's disgust over failure to gain more inroads with the LNP and the Coalition.
While acknowledging that Mr Palmer was key financier of Liberal politics, both in the state and national levels, Mr Newman now wondered if the long-time Liberal friend will not turn his eye on Labor, possibly supporting the federal ruling party.
But Mr Palmer, ranked by Forbes as one of Australia's richest, immediately dismissed the Queensland premier's claims, insisting that Mr Newman was merely resorting to 'sour-grapes'.
For his part, Treasurer Wayne Swan, a perennial Mr Palmer foe, was far from convinced that the iron ore magnate was now developing a soft heart for Australian workers or even taking up the cudgels for Queensland's beleaguered civil servants.
Mr Palmer, according to Mr Swan, was merely flashing his naughty self.
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