FRYDENBERG DEFENDS TAXPAYER-FUNDED EXECUTIVE BONUSES
In Question Time today, I asked the Morrison Government “how much of the taxpayer money used to fund JobKeeper has been spent on executive bonuses?”
Rather than condemn the misuse of JobKeeper to fund million-dollar bonuses for millionaire CEOs, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg defended the practice, saying “decisions by businesses about remuneration are matters for them”.
This bizarre defence of BonusKeeper is at odds with the many who have criticised the practice of firms paying executive bonuses after receiving JobKeeper, including:
- The Australian Taxation Office
- The Business Council of Australia
- The Council of Small Business of Australia
- Former Liberal Premier Jeff Kennett
THURSDAY, 18 MARCH 2021
SUBJECT: Morrison Government’s JobKeeper waste exposed.
LEON BYNER, HOST: I'm going to talk to a bloke who is a former professor of economics at the Australian National University, and he's got some very interesting data about JobKeeper. I'm talking about the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury, Dr Andrew Leigh. Andrew, thanks for joining us today.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Always a pleasure, Leon.
BYNER: Now, you've uncovered that one fifth of JobKeeper payments made to major listed companies in the second half of last year went to firms who grew their profits during the pandemic. Just explain this.
LEIGH: That’s right, Leon. So JobKeeper could be claimed based on a forecast downturn, but not all firms who said their profits were going to go down actually saw them fall. And this new report from Ownership Matters highlighted that for listed companies, a fifth of the money went to firms that very clearly didn't need it, that had a better 2020 than 2019. You think of firms like Harvey Norman or Premier Investments, which owns Just Jeans and Smiggle - these retailers saw a bonanza profit in 2020. They didn't need money, but they got it anyway. And if these findings are replicated right across the JobKeeper recipients, that would be somewhere between $10 and $20 billion going to firms with rising profits.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 18 MARCH 2021
The Morrison government's thrown a shroud of secrecy over the JobKeeper program, but a new report finds that half of the public companies that got JobKeeper saw their earnings go up, not down. One-fifth of the JobKeeper dollars went to firms that were more profitable than before the pandemic.
This is waste on a colossal scale.
The report suggests that $10 billion to $20 billion in JobKeeper payments may have gone to firms with rising profits—firms that never needed it, firms that gave it to billionaire shareholders and millionaire CEOs.Read more
SKY NEWS FIRST EDITION
THURSDAY, 18 MARCH 2021
SUBJECTS: Morrison Government’s JobKeeper waste exposed; Tax cuts; the Morrison Government’s poor plans for workers.
PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: There are fresh concerns this morning, one fifth of JobKeeper payments made to major listed companies in the second quarter of 2020 went to firms who grew their profits during the pandemic. Joining me live now is Labor MP, Andrew Leigh. Andrew, good to see you. Thanks for joining us this morning.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Pleasure, Pete.
STEFANOVIC: So what is your issue with this?
LEIGH: JobKeeper was meant to keep battlers in jobs, not to have money flowing to billionaire shareholders to buy the next yacht. And this new report shows really troubling findings about the extent to which JobKeeper was going to firms whose profits were rising. Think of firms like Harvey Norman or Premier Investments, big retailers who saw the best ever sales in 2020. Firms like that didn't need JobKeeper, and this report suggests that about a fifth of the money could have been going to firms with rising profits. We only know about the listed companies because the government hasn't released the rest of the information. But if this is true across the entire program, Pete, that means more than $10 billion was wasted. That's money that could extend JobKeeper for another six months right now.Read more
2SM WITH MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING
THURSDAY, 18 MARCH 2021
SUBJECTS: Morrison Government’s JobKeeper waste exposed; the need for Indigenous recognition.
MARCUS PAUL, HOST: One fifth of JobKeeper payments to major listed companies in the second half of last year went to firms who grew profits during the pandemic, sparking fresh concerns the $83 billion scheme has been abused by parts of corporate Australia. Is it any wonder the critics have called JobKeeper in some form corporate welfare? Fresh analysis from corporate governance advisory firm Ownership Matters has shown 66 of the Australian stock exchange's top 300 companies claimed a total of $1.38 billion in JobKeeper payments for the six months to the end of December. Of those, 58 reported positive profit figures during the period, and around half or 34 companies told investors their underlying earnings had improved. Now our #JobKeeperWarrior on this issue, of course, is Andrew Leigh. Andrew, good morning to you mate.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Marcus. Great to be back with you.
PAUL: Thank you. Look, the irony of course - I'm reading the story on the front page of The Sydney Morning Herald, ‘business profits in a welfare rainbow’, right underneath is a half-page advertisement for Harvey Norman. 60 months interest free, no deposit, no interest. Would have cost-Read more
JOBKEEPER WASTE COULD COST 250,000 JOBS
A new report from Ownership Matters today analyses ASX300 firms that received JobKeeper subsidies in the second half of 2020. It finds that one-fifth of the JobKeeper they received went to entities that reported an increase in their underlying earnings metrics from pre-pandemic levels.
This is a shocking waste. JobKeeper was suppose to support firms that were suffering. JobKeeper was never meant to go to firms whose profits were rising.
The Treasurer has refused to release data on overall JobKeeper payments. If the pattern identified by Ownership Matters holds up for firms outside the ASX300, then it suggests that in the second half of 2020, almost $10 billion of JobKeeper went to firms whose profits rose.Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 17 MARCH 2021
In 2018-19, the Australian government ran a program known as the Community Sport Infrastructure Grant Program. It had three rounds: December 2018, February 2019 and April 2019. According to the Australian National Audit Office, if the process was based purely on Sport Australia's assessed merit, applications would have been approved if they had a score over 74. However, the Audit Office found that 417 applications, 61 per cent of the total approved, had a score below that cut-off. That of course meant that many worthy projects missed out.
Last year, I tabled the full list of sports rorts grants, which included the Sport Australia scores. Among those were four Canberra projects which scored higher than 74 but were not funded.Read more
2CC STEPHEN CENATIEMPO BREAKFAST SHOW
WEDNESDAY, 17 MARCH 2021
SUBJECTS: The right for all women to feel safe and respected in the workplace; the need for an independent complaints process removed from the political parties; the Morrison Government’s inaction on the [email protected] recommendations; the need for men to call out bad behaviour in the workplace.
STEPHEN CENATIEMPO, HOST: One man that is actually doing the right thing rather than trying to score points off this is Labor Member for Fenner Andrew Leigh, who hasn't been on the program for a while. Andrew, good to have you back.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: G’day, Stephen. Great to be with you, although happy to chat with you anytime, mate. Pick up the phone anytime you want to talk.
CENATIEMPO: And you're welcome here anytime you've got something to say. And look, I've been very, very critical of people trying to score cheap political points off what are some disgraceful allegations. You've actually come out and encouraged women within your own party to come forward and report any instances of harassment or abuse. And it turns out from a Facebook page that has seen the light of day recently that there is quite a number of them.
LEIGH: These allegations were pretty horrific to me, Steve, and I certainly don't want to be in a Labor Party that has in it people who bully their staff. We're a party that believes in workers’ rights, and that's got to go beyond policies that advance workers’ rights - it's also got to be reflected in how we treat our own staff. We need to be a model employer. In that sense, anyone that's doing the wrong thing by their staff needs to be called out, needs to have their behaviour pulled into line.Read more
2SM WITH MARCUS PAUL IN THE MORNING
TUESDAY, 16 MARCH 2021
SUBJECTS: March For Justice and the Prime Minister’s insufficient response; the right for all women to feel safe and respected in the workplace; the Morrison Government’s inaction on the [email protected] recommendations; the Morrison Government withdrawing support for workers too soon.
MARCUS PAUL, HOST: Andrew Leigh, good morning to you, mate.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning, Marcus. Great to be with you.
PAUL: Thank you, you too. Let's talk first about the Women's March. What did you make of yesterday?
LEIGH: It was a real moment in history, Marcus. Over 5,000 people gathered outside Parliament House and just to walk among the marchers was to feel that you were part of a real moment in history. I think the Prime Minister doesn't quite understand what's going on, when he meets such an extraordinarily powerful upswelling of passion, emotion and reason with a little response when he said in Parliament ‘not far from here, such matters even now are being met with bullets’. You know, it’s just-Read more
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 15 MARCH 2021
At the outset, I thank the member for Solomon for agreeing to trade places in this debate so I can perform my House chamber duty.
It is a pleasure to follow the member for Goldstein, who was attacked over the weekend by his former leader, Malcolm Turnbull, who described the member for Goldstein's campaign for young Australians to be poorer in retirement so they can overheat the housing market as 'the craziest idea I've heard'. He went on to say:
Isn’t it … somewhat patronising for people who benefit from 15.4 per cent super to say that working people should settle for 9.5 ...Read more