JOBKEEPER OVERPAYMENTS HIT $20 BILLION
Earlier this year, analysis by the independent Parliamentary Budget Office estimated $13 billion in JobKeeper was paid to firms with rising revenues over the first six months of the program. Now, updated analysis from the PBO finds that over the entire 12-month period of the program was an extraordinary $19.7 billion.
When the pandemic hit, Labor called on the Government to put a wage subsidy scheme in place. In five days, Scott Morrison flipped from calling it a ‘dangerous’ idea to announcing JobKeeper.
JobKeeper was a good idea that was badly implemented by the Morrison Government.
Labor has no intention of making the JobKeeper scheme any worse.
That’s why an Albanese Government will not force firms to repay JobKeeper.
The lie that Labor intends to introduce any retrospective clawback is just a desperate attempt by the Coalition to distract from their inept fiscal management.
We know how much of a lifeline JobKeeper has been to millions of workers and businesses, yet the Morrison Government fumbled the delivery of this $89 billion scheme. They excluded short-term casual workers and public universities. At the same time, the Morrison Government allowed billions of dollars to go to firms that didn’t need it.
With $19.7 billion out of the total $89 billion JobKeeper program having been paid to firms with rising turnover, this means that over one-fifth of all JobKeeper payments were made to firms whose revenue was going up, not down. The new analysis shows that even after the JobKeeper rules were changed in September 2020, over $3 billion went to firms with rising turnover.
Among those who benefited from JobKeeper were offshore tycoons, such as Louis Vuitton’s Bernard Arnault and Luxottica’s Leonardo Del Vecchio. You don’t help Aussie battlers by giving money to French and Italian billionaires.
Labor has not been alone in criticising the waste in the JobKeeper program. Niki Savva, Janet Albrechtson and Judith Sloan are among those who have pointed out the JobKeeper mismanagement undermines the Liberals’ economic credibility. The Australian Financial Review has criticised the ‘epic leakage’ from the JobKeeper program and argued that it shows Josh Frydenberg to be ‘transactional, tactical, erratic, profligate and ultimately empty’. Small businesses that did the right thing are furious.
An Albanese Government will not force firms to repay JobKeeper. That horse has bolted on Josh Frydenberg’s watch. The lie that Labor would impose some kind of a retrospective clawback is a desperate attempt by the Liberals to distract from their mistakes.
No responsible opposition could stay silent about these extraordinary overpayments. $20 billion is equivalent to around $2,000 for every Australian household. Josh Frydenberg owes every one of those households an explanation as to how he let this happen. Today, this money could help thousands of people and small businesses who have spent months struggling through Mr Morrison’s lockdowns.
Unlike Britain, Canada, New Zealand and the United States, Australia has no public register of firms that received wage subsidies. Labor believes that the Australian Tax Office should publish the names of larger firms (with turnover above $10 million) that received JobKeeper.
This wasn’t Josh Frydenberg’s money – it was taxpayer money, and those who pay the bills have a right to know where it went.
Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.