Government wasted $13b in JobKeeper and won't ask for it back - Transcript, ABC Radio Melbourne

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
RADIO INTERVIEW
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.

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$13 Billion of JobKeeper waste - Speech. House of Representatives

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 31 AUGUST 2021

Seventy-year-old Jan Raabe is a pensioner in Frankston who works as a part-time teacher. Because her employer got JobKeeper, Jan received too much in her age pension. She's now repaying at a rate of $15 a fortnight because that's all she can afford out of her part pension. Still, she's repaying more than billionaires Brett Blundy, Marc Besen, James Packer, Nick Politis and Len Ainsworth combined. They're just some of the nearly a dozen billionaires who benefited from JobKeeper.

Jan is one of more than 11,000 Centrelink recipients who've gotten letters from the government asking them to repay their social security benefits because of JobKeeper receipt. This is a government that's writing letters to people in lockdown asking them to repay historic childcare subsidies.

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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.

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New figures show JobKeeper most wasteful program ever run by Australian government - Transcript, 5AA Mornings

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

RADIO INTERVIEW

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.

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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.

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JobKeeper Transparency - Speech, House of Representatives

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.

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The Government should welcome JobKeeper transparency - Transcript, Doorstop

E&OE TRANSCRIPT
DOORSTOP INTERVIEW
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. 

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We must learn the unclear lessons of the past - Speech, House of Representatives

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.

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Zaki Haidari would make a great Australian - Speech, House of Representatives

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 23 AUGUST 2021

Zaki Haidari is a Hazara refugee from Afghanistan. A decade ago, the Taliban took away his father, Mahram. Zaki has not seen his dad since. The Taliban beheaded Zaki's brother, Ali, at a checkpoint when they discovered that Ali was carrying a student identification card.

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Hands off our charities!

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

WEDNESDAY, 11 AUGUST 2021

I rise in continuation on the Treasury Laws Amendment (2021 Measures No. 2) Bill 2021. Mr Speaker, if you hear the Morrison government speak about charities, you'd think there is an outbreak of lawlessness among Australia's charities, yet the facts speak otherwise. Over the past 3½ years, the charities commissioner has deregistered just two of the nation's 59,000 charities for breaking the law in pursuit of activist goals. That means the annual chance of a charity being deregistered for illegal activism is about 10 in a million, which is about the same as the chance that a typical Australian will commit a murder. But facts have never stood in the way of the Liberals' crackdown on charitable activism.

Their latest proposal would go further than the current law, extending the ability of the charities commissioner to deregister a charity for a summary offence or because the charities commissioner anticipates that the organisation will commit a summary offence.

A summary offence might include blocking a footpath, trespassing or even failing to close a gate on a private property, and deregistration can occur because a charity promotes an event—for example, hands out flyers about it or simply puts it on their Facebook page.

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Cnr Gungahlin Pl and Efkarpidis Street, Gungahlin ACT 2912 | 02 6247 4396 | [email protected] | Authorised by A. Leigh MP, Australian Labor Party (ACT Branch), Canberra.