Another light has been shone on the widespread rorting of the JobKeeper wage subsidy, with several large retailers reporting record profits and paying big executive bonuses and dividends:
The federal treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, has welcomed Super Retail Group’s decision to voluntarily return $1.7m of wage subsidies to the Australian government, while Labor has called for other rebounding retailers to follow its lead.
Super Retail Group – the owner of brands including Supercheap Auto, Rebel and Macpac – announced the decision on Monday, as it revealed a record $170m net profit after tax.
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The company joins Toyota in foregoing jobkeeper payments despite being eligible, after the carmaker returned $18m to the federal government.
Labor’s shadow assistant minister for treasury, Andrew Leigh, has called on Harvey Norman and Solomon Lew’s Premier Investments, owner of retails chains Smiggle, Just Jeans, Dotti and Portmans, to return their jobkeeper payments…
In the first six months from March, companies needed to show only a one-off revenue downturn to qualify…
Eligibility rules were changed in September requiring companies to requalify for the payment every quarter, but many companies that went on to post profits and pay dividends had already received the payments.
Leigh told Guardian Australia that Premier Investments had received an estimated $45m in jobkeeper payments, but had gone on to pay a “multi-million bonus to its chief executive and deliver a stonking dividend to shareholders”.
Premier gave shareholders a 70c dividend per share and has told investors it expects earnings before interest and tax of between $221m and $233m in the six months to 30 January…
Leigh said Harvey Norman had also declared a “profit bonanza” and “doesn’t appear to need taxpayer support in the same way that 1 million Australians do right now as they face the prospect of jobseeker [unemployment benefits] being cut”.
Many undeserving companies have also benefited from the $28 billion business cashflow boost and others will have their wages subsidised by the Coalition’s JobMaker rort.
No wonder business profits have boomed:
The Coalition truly is the party for big business, lining their pockets while they drag their heels on permanently lifting the JobSeeker unemployment benefit – Australia’s genuine social safety net.