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JobKeeper : Welfare for the Wealthy ?

You probably are aware that the first version of JobKeeper was plundered by businesses who, in many instances, were not adversely impacted by COVID-19 and in quite a few cases these were businesses who actually increased revenue and profits during the first twelve months of JobKeeper.

There has been a massive government coverup mainly to protect the architect of the scheme, Josh Frydenberg, from the adverse publicity and blame surrounding the bungle.

Newscorp have so far been silent on the matter and Sky after Dark have actually been mounting a protection racket for Frydenberg and blaming Labor for voting for the scheme. Not so the normally Right leaning Spectator Australia who, through their conservative columnist Judith Sloan, have stuck the boot right in ; this is Sloan in the Spectator Australia :

“But when it comes to government outlays, the wildly expensive JobKeeper will rank as the single most irresponsible and reckless spending program ever undertaken by a government. Lasting only 12 months, JobKeeper has ended up costing the Australian taxpayer close to $90 billion. It makes the Pink Batts and Building the Education Revolution programs look completely amateurish in terms of government spending for dubious benefit.”

The problem started with Josh, in his haste to show business that he was on their side, announcing a massive public spending scheme called JobKeeper. Payments of $1500 a fortnight were to be available to workers at firms that, depending on the size of the company, saw their turnover fall by at least 30 or 50 per cent during COVID-19. Josh told those businesses that if they reckon – perhaps on the toss of a coin – that they could lose revenue attributable to the impact of COVID on their business then they were entitled to dip into a pool of public money to enable them to continue to pay their workforce. Quite naturally many business enterprises snapped up the offer particularly when it was realized that the handout was open ended ; in other words you could keep the money even if you business did no suffer a revenue downturn and even if your business prospered during COVID.

So, the money was only meant to go to employers suffering material drops in revenue, yet it is estimated that $368 million was paid out to entities that more than tripled their revenue in the June quarter last year.

Clearly in a scheme dealing with public funds, you would expect that recipients of the government handout would be obliged to refund the money if in fact their revenues did not diminish during the period under review and particularly if they were able to increase revenue and profits. But according to Josh that’s not the way the scheme was designed – unlike Robodebt – so in effect it was a handout with no strings attached.

To be fair, some businesses have repaid some of the money received from taxpayers. Most notably retailer Harvey Norman repaid $6m in JobKeeper in August after it posted record profits in the 2020-21 financial year. The repayment is less than a third of the estimated $22m the company and its franchisees received.

There are several aspects of this bungle that are disturbing. The first is that it occurred at all on such a large scale but more importantly that the government have tried to cover it up and put the Treasurer in witness protection. At the very minimum there should be an open enquiry probably a Royal Commission.

Tonight, Sixty Minutes is doing a piece on this massive rorting of public money but evidently Frydenberg was not available to be interviewed : perhaps he had to wash his hair !

 

Cartoon by Alan Moir (moir.com.au)

 

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14 comments

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  1. Phil Pryor

    This is criminality on a large and carefully contrived and premeditated way, organised to raid the government’s hoards and distribute huge amounts to patrons, donors, followers, cronies, friends, class and status types. In perfectly civilised nations over time, such crooks as this treasurer would be up against a wall and eliminated, or else get the Beria sendoff in the back of the scheming skull. There MUST be public and open investigation, with charges, for the people have been deceived, abused, insulted. What filth they are, and this follows other extreme bungles, plots, laziness, incompetence and unending flows of bullshit. Will our opposition oppose, and heavily..??

  2. New England Cocky

    Geez Terence ….. I knew there was a problem when he was first appointed. Tennis players cannot count. They are used to skipping over numbers, 15, 30, 40 etc and then stop at 6 because then they wouid need two hands to compute the answer.

    I said, ”Joshie, don’t go; Joshie, don’t go” but he didn’t listen and the Liarbrals corporate mates won a motza ….. better than Wimbledon or a Grand Slam.

    But Terence, you are being very unreasonable expecting the Australian Corporate Executive class to consider the needs of the workers when it is common knowledge that the only thing that matters is making a profit, paying as little taxation as legally possible and suppressing worker pay & entitlements.

    When an ideologically driven political party deliberately makes decisions that even Blind Freddie can see are against the best interests of Australian voters then bring on the November 2021 feral elections and let the people decide whether they want to become peasants in their own country.

  3. New England Cocky

    @Phil Pryor: SBS last night played (again) the movie Farewell My Queen about the French Revolution & Marie Antoinette. With Gladbags promoting the slogan, ”Let them die in droves’ I wonder if this is the time to hold back on detailing the indiscretions of the NSW Liarbal Nazional$ COALition misgovernment?

  4. Josephus

    Harvey Norman has perpetual sales on. I am hoping that like me millions are also avoiding this chain and will do so post pandemic as well as spreading the word, cf the anti apartheid campaigns of yore.

  5. Phil Pryor

    Cocky, I have one relly formerly in NSW water (then grouped into Sydney water) who covers and shuts up about past numerous scandals. He now does contract hydrography work through federal agencies, which means he may know about behind the scenes MD basin scandals, but, cannot afford to lose contacts and/or contracts. Anther old relly is heavily inside development applications as an independent consultant, having worked with such as G Pell, H Triguboff and M Baird in property portfolio problems, he being expert in approval settlement. He has always barely hinted and joked about the insider crimmy shady stuff, all sides, all in. You can get anything done, bought, sold, eliminated, fixed or hidden in Sydney, since 1788. Old Glad is operated by stringpullers who dig, blast, tunnel, reconstruct, wheel, deal, cover, sell, buy, spruik, lie, front. Let us talk and scribble on, hoping for growing interest and support

  6. Jack sprat

    I am surprise the Tories have not yet brought up,this is not about class war or this is about class envy in their defense of this massive rort .

  7. HENRY RODRIGUES

    The propensity and criminal capacity of this government, and in this case, the feckless treasurer Friedupburger, show no sign of diminishing in depth and spread. Has Costello been whispering in his shell like ears again ? The former treasurer was very adept at directing huge amounts of taxpayer funds to their party’s selected mates and backers and undeserving priviledged few (dividend imputation) that saddled us with enormous costs for what seems forever. Now comes along another one playing santa claus with money that could have been spent wisely and effectively for the benefit of all citizens. Friedupburger was very proud to declare he was being mentored by Costello the arsewipe and we now see the results.

    Even Judith Sloan, the archtypical conservative has called him out, and by implication, his boss, the jerk who smirks.

  8. GL

    By a corrupt party for the corrupt which also hugely benefit a corrupt party.

  9. Stuart Anderson

    The only reason Gerry Harvey paid some money back was relentless pressure from Mad Witches and others on him and his advertisers.

  10. Michael Taylor

    Stuart, you’re probably right. I can’t believe he’d do it out of the goodness in his heart.

    His sales must have been taking a decent hit.

  11. Lawrence Roberts

    The Parliament seems full of incompetents. People who have failed elsewhere and I include members on the opposition benches. Alternatively, perhaps the beneficiaries of the windfall will feel duty bound to tithe 10% to the conservative forces campaign war chest.

  12. king1394

    While a lot of money was given to large companies to support their payrolls, job keeper rules on casual workers meant that many small businesses with low-paid workers were not supported. My son, a delivery driver for a greengrocer was one whose job ended because his small business boss, who supplied local restaurants could no longer employ him. He had worked on and off through the year, but not regularly. So neither business nor employment was supported.
    “.- For a casual employee to be an eligible employee under the Jobkeeper program they need to be a ‘long-term casual employee’ of the employer. Part of the test for eligibility as a ‘long-term casual employee’ is whether the employee has been employed on a regular and systematic basis during the period of 12 months that ended at 1 March 2020.”

  13. Terence Mills

    Cross Bench Senator Rex Patrick has been trying to force the government to reveal every JobKeeper recipient firm with a turnover above $10 million, but the government foiled his move in the senate by calling in a favour from One Nation leader Pauline Hanson to withdraw her support : which she did.

    Patrick had noted that “many of these companies had gone on to make substantial profits, paid dividends, paid executive bonuses, while collecting JobKeeper. Money that had been funnelled from hard-earning taxpayers into the wallets of shareholders and investors.”

    The government are digging in on this mainly to protect Frydenberg – this is a strategy that may backfire on them and their claim that they are competent economic managers.

  14. BB

    Welfare for the Wealthy?
    So what’s new….Nothing….! 😬
    What does one call a gold pension for life?
    Wealthfare

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