ABC RADIO CANBERRA MORNINGS WITH ADAM SHIRLEY
WEDNESDAY, 1 SEPTEMBER 2021
SUBJECTS: $13 billion in JobKeeper waste; Stage 3 tax changes
ADAM SHIRLEY, HOST: The Member for Fenner, Dr Andrew Leigh, has been the chief agitator on the Government's JobKeeper program. Dr Leigh, good morning to you.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Adam. Great to be with you, and happy spring. Isn't it wonderful that Canberra's turned on the warmth for us?
SHIRLEY: Warming up a little bit, which I think will be positive news for a lot of people in lockdown currently. Are you satisfied with what Mr Harvey has done?
LEIGH: I'd certainly be pleased if he paid back on behalf of the franchisees as well, but the fact is he has paid back the component from head office. He's done so thanks to considerable public pressure. The only reason Gerry Harvey's paying back is because Australians know how much he received, and we know that because ASIC, the corporate watchdog, required all listed firms to disclose to the share market their JobKeeper receipts. But 97 per cent of JobKeeper has gone to firms that aren't listed on stock market and we don't know about that information. We're having a fight with the Government at the moment in the Senate where we want more transparency. 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.Read more
ABC RADIO MELBOURNE DRIVE WITH RAFAEL EPSTEIN
TUESDAY, 31 AUGUST 2021
SUBJECTS: The Government’s $13 billion in JobKeeper waste.
RAFAEL EPSTEIN, HOST: Hopefully my next guest will not hang up! [Gerry Harvey had just hung up on him.] It's 5.14pm. Andrew Leigh is the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Charities. He's one of the Labor MPs in Canberra. He's part of Anthony Albanese's shadow finance team. Andrew Leigh, good afternoon.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good afternoon, Raf. I can absolutely give you a rock-solid guarantee I will not hang up on you. Look forward to your questions.
EPSTEIN: Firstly, it's significant, isn't it, if Gerry Harvey gives back some of the JobKeeper money? That's a good thing, no?
LEIGH: Absolutely. It's terrific that Gerry Harvey's done the right thing. He was refusing to do so six months ago. It's clear the reason that he repaid was the public pressure that has been placed on him. The only reason we got that public pressure is because the corporate watchdog, ASIC, required listed companies to disclose their JobKeeper to the share market, so it really points to the value of transparency.Read more
Even Gerry Harvey knows repaying unnecessary JobKeeper is the right thing to do - Speech, House of Representatives
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 31 AUGUST 2021
Billionaire Gerry Harvey once said that donating to charity is 'just wasted', and that giving money to people who 'are not putting anything back into the community' is like 'helping a whole heap of no-hopers to survive for no good reason'. Gerry Harvey called the Victorian mental health levy a 'dreadful, horrible, stupid tax'. Earlier this year Gerry Harvey opposed a 3.5 per cent wage increase for his workers at a time when his profits had more than doubled. Yet even Gerry Harvey has now decided to repay his JobKeeper.Read more
New figures show JobKeeper most wasteful program ever run by Australian government - Transcript, 5AA Mornings
5AA MORNINGS WITH LEON BYNER
MONDAY, 30 AUGUST 2021
SUBJECTS: Government’s JobKeeper waste and secrecy.
LEON BYNER, HOST: Andrew, it's good to talk to you again.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Always great to talk with you, Leon. Thanks for having me on the program.
BYNER: Now, more than $13 billion in JobKeeper payments were given to businesses which recorded increases in revenue, and that has fuelled a lot of discussion that the wage subsidy was the biggest budget waste in our history. Do you still hold to that?
LEIGH: I can't think of the bigger one, Leon. This amount of money would have built fibre-to-the-home broadband for every urban home in Australia. It's more than the federal government spends on public schools in a single year. It’s almost $1,000 for every Australian adult. The fact is it didn't have to be this way. Josh Frydenberg knew a couple of months into the JobKeeper program the money was flying out the door to firms whose revenues were going up rather than down, and yet he did nothing to stem the tide. If this had been money going to pensioners, you'd bet that they would have cracked down on it lickety split, but because it was money going to some of their mates they allowed those cheques to go out the door and Australia is the poorer for it.Read more
Why is the Government running scared from JobKeeper transparency? - Speech, House of Representatives
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 26 AUGUST 2021
The Treasury Laws Amendment (2021 Measures No. 6) Bill 2021 is, as the member for Bruce has said, an urgent measure which will bring on important changes to allow greater transparency of superannuation holdings in family law proceedings. Like the member for Bruce, I urge the Senate not to attach amendments to the bill that would slow its passage. Labor takes the same approach to this bill that we took to a bill that went to the Senate in the last sitting period which related to support for people in lockdown.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 25 AUGUST 2021
JobKeeper was the biggest one-off program in Australian history, costing the average Australian household $9,000. It wasn't Liberal Party money; it was taxpayer money, and taxpayers have a right to know how it was spent. In Britain taxpayers know every firm that got their Job Retention Scheme. In New Zealand taxpayers know every firm that got the COVID Wage Subsidy. In the United States taxpayers know every firm that got money through the Paycheck Protection Program.Read more
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
WEDNESDAY, 25 AUGUST 2021
SUBJECTS: Government’s historic JobKeeper waste; Labor’s JobKeeper transparency amendment; Government’s vaccine failure; Labor’s vaccine incentive.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: JobKeeper is the biggest program ever put in place as a one-off by the Australian Government, and it involved more waste than any Australian government program has seen. We know that some $13 billion - almost $1,000 for every Australian adult - was given through the JobKeeper program to firms with rising earnings. Yes, JobKeeper saved some jobs. But there weren't jobs saved by giving money to AP Eagers, the car company with rising earnings. There weren't jobs saved by giving money to Premier Investments and Harvey Norman. There weren't jobs saved by giving money to Accent Group, who used part of it to give a $1 million bonus to their CEO. JobKeeper went to the Australian Club, a men's-only club in Sydney that increased its surplus. It went to independent schools such as The Kings School, Wesley College and Brisbane Grammar, who saw an increase in their surplus. JobKeeper went to the Royal Australian Golf Club, that surely didn't need taxpayer handouts. While the Government changed the rules three times to keep public universities out, JobKeeper went to Bond University and New York University's Sydney campus.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 24 AUGUST 2021
About once a decade this parliament debates questions around Australia's international engagement. We did so in 1991, in 2002 and in 2010 and now again in 2021. Such debates are important not only for what they say about a particular international engagement but also for what they say about when Australia makes that decision of committing troops to an international engagement. This is symbolic of the positioning of the Australian War Memorial, designed to be along the parliamentary axis. So when considering whether or not to send troops to war parliamentarians look out and see the cost of war embodied in the War Memorial. It has been argued by some that parliamentary approval should be required before committing troops. I believe that at least we should have a parliamentary debate.Read more
Government sending JobKeeper debt notices to pensioners, but not billionaires who pocketed millions - Transcript, 5AA Mornings
5AA MORNINGS WITH LEON BYNER
WEDNSDAY, 11 AUGUST 2021
SUBJECTS: The Government pursuing pensioners but not billionaires for JobKeeper repayments
LEON BYNER, HOST: My next guest is an Australian politician, but he's also an author, he's a lawyer, former professor of economics at the Australian National University, and has been a member of the Australian House of Reps for Labor since 2010. He's a clever bloke, alright. Now, the reason I'm going to talk to him in a moment is that we have thousands of Australians getting debt notices for pandemic welfare overpayments. Many profitable businesses are evading the same repayments. Now, the Government, of course, is being accused of double standards, and if those facts I've just put to you hold water, which they appear to do, we have a fairness issue here. Let's talk with the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury, Dr Andrew Leigh. Andrew, it's good to talk to you.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Likewise, Leon. Great to be with you.
BYNER: Now, how much money? Have you done a bit of an audit to work out how much money ought to be paid back to Australian taxpayers on this?
LEIGH: Leon, if you just take the basic question of how many JobKeeper recipients actually saw their earnings go up rather than down, it's some $13 billion. Put into perspective, that's more than the Commonwealth Government spent on public schools last year. It's more than they spend on childcare last year. It's about enough to take a fibre to the home network to every urban premises in Australia. It's a lot of money.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 11 AUGUST 2021
Before question time, I spoke about the absurdity of the situation of Jan, who had received a notice requiring that she repay some $1,000 of the pension because she had received JobKeeper in her capacity as a part-time schoolteacher in Victoria. While the government is going hard after Jan, putting her on a $15-a-fortnight repayment plan, it has nothing to say to Gerry Harvey, to Solomon Lew, to Brett Blundy, to the other Australian billionaires who've gotten JobKeeper as a result of having significant shareholdings in firms that enjoyed a profitable year and paid a dividend. That's the double standard that we have in this government, a standard that says that Jan, who is on the pension, should have to pay $1,000 back through a repayment plan but that the billionaires who've benefited from JobKeeper aren't asked by this government to repay a cent. When we on this side of the House call on the government to at least exert a bit of moral courage and at least ask these firms to live up to their corporate social responsibility statements, we get told by the Prime Minister that we're playing ‘the politics of envy’. That's how out of touch this Prime Minister is—that he is willing to go after Jan but not to go after Australian billionaires.Read more