In yet more updates to the JobKeeper clusterfuck, The Sydney Morning Herald has revealed that the Australian Christian Lobby received $138,000 in JobKeeper payments last year despite a revenue surge – and that’s just one out of thousands of companies and organisations that received payments they didn’t need.
Last year’s JobKeeper scheme, which was designed to help businesses keep staff on the payroll and survive lockdown, has come under fire after it was revealed that at least $13 billion was given to companies that didn’t need it because they actually had a surge in revenue, or they didn’t lose enough profits (specifically, 30% in the second round) to qualify for the subsidies.
The Australian Christian Lobby, which describes its purpose as to “see Christian principles and ethics accepted and influencing the way we are governed”, received JobKeeper payments while its revenue increased by over 12% for the 2019-20 financial year to $5.8 million. And its revenue increased the next financial year, too.
The organisation’s managing director Martyn Iles said he wanted to “acknowledge Almighty God” as his organisation had “exceeded all our financial targets for the year”, as per SMH.
The Australian Christian Lobby is just one of many industry groups/think tanks/not-for-profits/etc. that received JobKeeper payments when their revenue either increased, or fell slightly but not below 30%, including the Australia Institute and the Australian Council of Social Services.
And of course, there’s also the giant retail corporations – we’re talking the likes of Louis Vuitton, which received $6 million in JobKeeper despite an increase in sales revenue, profits, shareholders and dividends, and Harvey Norman, which recently repaid $6 million of JobKeeper money it had received but wasn’t entitled to – although another $14.5 million paid to its privately owned franchisees wasn’t given back.
The tax office literally has within its powers the ability to garnishee your bank account to recover unpaid taxes, but Harvey Norman can choose to only repay $6m of $22m in Jobkeeper income and gets to walk away with a pat on the back.
— Emma (@emma__jayne14) August 31, 2021
Federal Labor is currently lobbying companies and organisations that were making increased revenue while getting JobKeeper to return the money they were given, and honestly, the fact that this even needs to be debated is pretty telling in terms of how the whole issue is being treated. I mean, imagine if Robodebt was simply a suggestion.
In an interview with Leigh Sales on 7.30, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg defended not including a clawback provision (aka a note saying that businesses who ended up profiting should pay back the subsidies) when setting up the $90 billion JobKeeper program.
“If [businesses] were going to have to pay back that money, then they wouldn’t necessarily have taken it in the first place and you would have seen jobs being lost,” he said.
Look, that’s definitely true, and it wouldn’t be incorrect to claim that the majority of businesses getting JobKeeper genuinely needed it. But you can’t ignore the stark contrast between the way our government is approaching large companies taking advantage of subsidies they don’t need, and actual everyday people on Centrelink who got slammed with Robodebt.