Tinkler rides to late rescue at Patinack Farm

 DON’T SHUT THE GATE: Horses at Patinack Farm’s Upper Hunter operation yesterday.   Picture: Ryan Osland
DON’T SHUT THE GATE: Horses at Patinack Farm’s Upper Hunter operation yesterday. Picture: Ryan Osland

 Nathan Tinkler’s habit of making eleventh-hour deals to stave off creditors has managed to save the jobs, for now, of an estimated 240 employees at his Patinack Farm racing empire.

Just hours after a court-appointed liquidator to Patinack Farm Administration said yesterday it looked like staff would be sacked because the company had no assets, directors Mr Tinkler and right-hand man Troy Palmer managed to strike a deal,  saving the workforce.

It is understood the company owed the Australian Taxation Office about $4million and $163,000 to Queensland WorkCover.

The directors had until lunchtime yesterday to provide enough capital to ensure the business could continue to trade.

A further announcement about the future of the company was to have been made by liquidator Anthony Matthews and Associates this morning.

A spokesman for Mr Tinkler said the liquidation was the result of an ‘‘administrative error’’. 

He said accountants had failed to clear a debt of $16,978 to WorkCover South Australia and it was paid hours after the Federal Court ruling on Wednesday morning to place the company in liquidation.

It is believed Patinack Farm Administration employs about 70 staff in the Hunter Valley at farms in Sandy Hollow and Aberdeen.

Liquidator Tony Matthews said yesterday  that employees ‘‘will not have their employment terminated today’’.

‘‘I have had discussions with Troy Palmer, a director of the company, who advises me that it is management’s intention to fund the liquidator to meet trading and other expenses to enable the company to continue to trade and pay all creditors to the company in full,’’ he said.

Earlier in the day, Mr Matthews said the company would have to make an application to the court and demonstrate it was solvent and could pay its debts.

Muswellbrook mayor Martin Rush said he had discussions with Mr Palmer, who informed him the liquidation was accidental.

The council had rangers on standby to inspect the health of the horses at the Sandy Hollow stud in case the staff were terminated yesterday.

For Mr Tinkler,  the liquidation of Patinack Farm Administration – although accidental – has triggered a legal process that is now a growing headache.

‘‘It is a monumental stuff- up,’’  said insolvency specialist Raymond Roser, of Woods and Day Solicitors, who represented NSW WorkCover in last week’s wind-up application against Patinack Farm. 

Those proceedings were dismissed after Patinack settled its unspecified debts.

There is concern within the racing industry about the perceived cash-flow problems of Mr Tinkler – who is the country’s biggest racehorse owner with well over 1000 horses on his books.

Patinack’s Sydney office appeared shut yesterday, with  stewards going to stables at Randwick   to check horses were getting fed properly. 

“Our biggest concern is the welfare of the horses and employees ...’’  Racing NSW chief executive Peter V’landys said.

 A spokesman for Mr Tinkler declined to comment.