/ 25 December 2012

Generous billionaire Clive Palmer spends millions on staff Christmas party

Clive Palmer
Clive Palmer

The part was for 650 Australians a lot less wealthy than himself.

"In the final analysis in life, materialism isn't all that's important," he told the national news agency AAP. "The only purpose of money is to spend it in the benefit of other people."

Two years ago, Palmer spent 10 million Australian dollars (10.3 million US dollars) on end-of-year bonuses for his employees, which included 55 Mercedes-Benz cars and 1 500 all-expenses-paid trips to Fiji.

Asked how much the Christmas party for people in need would cost, Palmer said: "I don't know. I don't worry about those things. I just sign the cheques."

Titanic II
Palmer is also known a for his plans to build and sail the Titanic II. He said his version of the Titanic will keep the first, second and third-class divisions and include a "safety" deck.

Releasing the preliminary plans and drawings for the Titanic II, which is to be built in China, mining tycoon Palmer said the massive vessel would have nine decks.

"The preliminary general arrangement plans depict the original separation between first, second and third-class, which will be kept in the ship's final design," Palmer said.

"To ensure Titanic II is compliant with all current safety and construction regulations, a new 'safety deck' has been inserted between D and C decks and will feature proper lifeboats, safety chutes or slides as well as new common public rooms."

Palmer said the upper decks would retain the public rooms, passenger stairs, cabins and other features in similar locations as in the original ship which sank on April 15 1912 en route to New York after hitting an iceberg.

But the plans by Finnish-based ship design and engineering company Deltamarin also feature new escape stairs and service elevators, while one deck has been re-designed to provide crew accommodation, laundry and machinery.

The flamboyant billionaire said Titanic II's first voyage remained set for late 2016, with the boat due to sail from China to England ahead of her maiden passenger journey to North America. Interest was "overwhelming", he said. – Sapa-AFP/DPA