Economists: Labor wrong to question JobKeeper waste

Two economists, Richard Holden and Steven Hamilton, have launched a stinging attack on Labor for lambasting the Morrison Government for giving billions of taxpayer dollars to companies whose profits rose without the requirement they pay it back:

The public discussion has devolved into a populist riot desperate to expose which recipient experienced rising revenue after the fact, which paid executive bonuses, which paid foreign dividends, and so on. Sadly, these flames have been fanned gleefully by Labor, which found the short-term political opportunity too good to resist…

JobKeeper presented an opportunity for Labor to transform our politics. Instead, it chose instant gratification…

For an opposition, patting the government on the back is hard. Just ask John Howard, who spent years in the wilderness after having done that. But sometimes you have to be the bigger person for the sake of the country. The country may even reward you for it.

This could have been one for the true believers. It could have been Labor’s moment. The party could have embraced this new, better rule book and entrenched it for good. Instead, it’s doing its darnedest to drag us back to the old one. Sadly, it blew it.

Is this article a joke? How can these economists truly believe that wasting an estimated $13 billion is a good thing for Australia? You don’t save jobs by giving money to firms whose revenues are going up.

As for the politics, they seem to forget that Labor supported JobKeeper very quickly and voted for its quick implementation despite reservations.

Labor’s criticisms of JobKeeper are 100% valid.

Why didn’t the Morrison Government include a clawback provision requiring JobKeeper overpayments to be repaid? Clawback provisions are standard operating procedure for government payments subsequently found to be overpayments. Ask any Centrelink client.

Why didn’t Treasurer Josh Frydenberg amend the JobKeeper scheme when Treasury found out in mid-May 2020 that 15% of JobKeeper funds had been paid to firms whose turnover had increased? Instead, the government kept the taxpayer hose wide open for another four months.

Why has the Morrison Government blocked efforts to establish a public register of large companies receiving JobKeeper? The US, UK and New Zealand each established such a register for their wage subsidy schemes. Why not Australia? What’s wrong with transparency?

All governments need to be held to account for their actions and all good oppositions hold them to account.

Unconventional Economist

Comments are hidden for Membership Subscribers only.