Labor MP Andrew Leigh says the federal government’s JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme should be subject to proper scrutiny. He has accused the government of being “extremely secretive” about the scheme, claiming it has refused to disclose how much was paid to companies that increased their profits in 2020 or paid bonuses to their executives. Leigh has urged profitable companies to return their JobKeeper payments, after companies such as Toyota and Super Retail Group agreed to do so.
The Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) has also flagged an audit of the $100 billion scheme.
From The Guardian:
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An audit of the scheme will examine issues including whether the Australian Taxation Office has put in place “effective measures to protect the integrity of jobkeeper payments”, the Australian National Audit Office said.
The move follows a request in December from the opposition frontbencher Andrew Leigh, who said it was vital that the scheme, which was the single biggest in Australian history, received proper scrutiny…
The ANAO said its audit would investigate whether the ATO had “effectively administered the rules for the jobkeeper scheme”, where it had “ implemented effective measures to protect the integrity of jobkeeper payments” and whether it had “effectively monitored and reported on the operational performance of the scheme”.
It said it planned to table its report in October.
JobKeeper should really be renamed “ProfitKeeper” or “executive BonusKeeper”, because it drove a massive boom in company profits during what was the sharpest recession since the Great Depression:
Indeed, a recent analysis of the financial reports of 290 entities on the ASX 300 found that at least 25 companies have paid bonuses worth a combined $24.3 million to their executives after claiming JobKeeper subsidies:
However, the lack of transparency of the scheme makes ascertaining the exact level of rorting impossible.
Nevertheless, the widespread rorting of JobKeeper should serve as a stark warning as to why JobKeeper should not be extended to the tourism or hospitality industries, as many of these firms will inevitably rort the scheme too.
Instead, the JobSeeker unemployment benefit should be permanently lifted from its poverty level of $40 a day to the Aged Pension level ($61.50 a day):
JobSeeker is Australia’s true social safety net as it is only paid to those that are actually unemployed. Therefore, it is well targeted, unlike JobKeeper.