Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar has labelled calls to disclose big business recipients of JobKeeper “outrageous”:
Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar says inserting a clawback provision in the JobKeeper program would have “risked Australian jobs”, as he declares Labor’s attempt to reveal recipients of the wage subsidy “outrageous”.
An ongoing scrap between Labor and the Coalition emerged after Independent senator Rex Patrick introduced legislation in the upper house requiring the Australian Taxation Office to hand over documents with a list of companies who received JobKeeper payments…
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“In the end, JobKeeper wouldn’t have been as successful, or wouldn’t have supported 3.8 million Australians, more than a million Australian businesses, 98 per cent of which are small to medium-sized Australian businesses, had we done so,” he told ABC News Breakfast on Monday morning.
Yet, the United States, the United Kingdom and New Zealand each operated a public register disclosing wage subsidy recipients (for example, check out New Zealand’s here). So why is the Morrison Government so determined to hide the truth by preventing disclosure?
Meanwhile, The AFR’s Joe Aston has destroyed Michael Sukkar’s argument, noting that the Morrison Government was informed of JobKeeper’s immense waste in May 2020, but refused to take action:
Nobody is questioning that JobKeeper, in its totality, saved a huge number of businesses and their employees from economic distress. For $90 billion, it’d want to… [But] $13 billion of JobKeeper 1.0 [was] paid to firms whose revenue rose…
Have [the Coalition] even read the Treasury report they now quote from? “The underlying data also show that 15 per cent of JobKeeper recipients experienced an increase in turnover in April 2020 compared with one year previous,” it said…
The Australian Taxation Office and Treasury had access to this underlying data in mid-May 2020. The Morrison government knew then that 15 per cent of JobKeeper was spraying out to firms whose financial fortunes the pandemic had improved, and the Morrison government did nothing. Those firms guzzled freely from the Commonwealth tap for another four months. And who was holding the hose?
Labor’s Andrew Leigh also continues to apply a blowtorch to the Morrison Government:
97% of JobKeeper has gone to firms that aren’t listed on stock market and we don’t know about that information…
We want the JobKeeper receipt by all firms with a turnover above $10 million to be disclosed on a public register, just like they do in New Zealand, Britain, and the United States.
The government’s banging on with all kinds of arguments around protecting taxpayer secrecy, and yet Gerry Harvey, the great ad man, has given us the best advertisement for transparency in JobKeeper. He’s only going back because of public pressure, and he’s only got the public pressure because of transparency…
That’s why the Morrison government’s campaign for secrecy is so absurd. It’s only through proper transparency that we will actually get to the bottom of what’s gone on, and how on earth the government allowed the JobKeeper scheme to deliver $1000 for every Australian adult to firms with rising revenues. You don’t save jobs by giving money to firms whose revenues are going up. Those firms are always going to keep their staff on. It’s waste, pure and simple, and it’s the biggest waste in the history of the Commonwealth…
We have a fair bit of tax transparency around already for firms with a turnover above $100 million. Their taxable income and the tax they pay is reported annually, so this is a normal thing for total tax. It’s normal in other countries where they rolled out a JobKeeper scheme. For Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg to be confecting an argument around taxpayer confidentiality when they have presided over the biggest waste of Commonwealth money in Australian history is just absurd.
The Coalition’s fiscal hawks are always quick to chastise welfare recipient “leaners” and require them to repay excess welfare payments. But they are deafly silent on JobKeeper overpayments.
This goes to show that there is one rule for the unemployed and another for the Coalition’s business mates. Social welfare is frowned upon and wasteful, whereas corporate welfare is virtuous in the Coalition’s eyes.
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