HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 8 DECEMBER 2020
Last week, Tesco announced that it will repay half a billion pounds of taxpayer support. The British retailer had been under fire since paying shareholders a £315 million dividend in October. Last week, Tesco's chairman said:
We're financially strong enough to be able to return this to the public and we are conscious of our responsibilities to society.
We firmly believe now that this is the right thing to do …
I've spoken with Australian firms that were eligible for JobKeeper but which chose not to claim it because they didn't think they needed taxpayer support. Modestly, they asked me that I not use their names.
But a few firms took JobKeeper, despite enjoying a profit bonanza. Three billionaires—James Packer, Solomon Lew and Harvey Norman—have received dividends propped up by JobKeeper. The Business Council says that firms shouldn't use JobKeeper to pay bonuses, but dozens of firms, including Lend Lease, Collins Foods, Carsales and Star Farmer, paid out millions of dollars to millionaire CEOs.
Enough! If your profits are up 29 per cent then paying back the taxpayer should come before boosting the CEO's salary! As Tesco's slogan puts it, 'Every little helps'.
With a million people unemployed and a trillion dollars of government debt, we can't afford to be lining the pockets of billionaires.
Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.