HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, 11 NOVEMBER 2020
In March, retail billionaire Solomon Lew reportedly cried as he spoke to the Treasurer, urging him to create JobKeeper. His firm, Premier Investments, temporarily closed stores such as Just Jeans and Portmans, receiving around $45 million in JobKeeper payments from the taxpayer.
Six months later, Premier Investments announced profits 29 per cent higher than last year and paid shareholders a $57 million dividend. As the largest shareholder, Lew himself received more than $20 million. A policy designed to help battlers ended up benefiting a billionaire.
Premier Investments also paid its CEO a $2 million bonus. They're not alone. Healthia got $8 million in JobKeeper and paid over $100,000 in bonuses. Integral Diagnostics got $5 million in JobKeeper and paid over $200,000 in bonuses. Carsales got $5 million in JobKeeper and paid over $400,000 in bonuses. Capitol Health got $5 million in JobKeeper and paid over $700,000 in bonuses.
Yesterday in the Senate, Labor moved to prevent firms getting JobKeeper from paying bonuses. The coalition voted against it. That puts them at odds with the Business Council of Australia and with the tax office. As Second Commissioner Jeremy Hirschhorn recently warned, paying bonuses out of JobKeeper would be seen as ‘exploiting the spirit of the measures’. With a million unemployed, why is the Morrison government shovelling cash to millionaires?
Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.