A problem exists, and a plan is devised to fix the problem. Generally speaking, both sides think it works well, except down the track it is found that one could drive a truck through the rules, and companies do.
It is called “JobKeeper” and is designed to hold onto the link between employer and employee during the pandemic. When the rorting of the rules is noticed, the public becomes angry when companies decide to retain the taxpayer’s money they have been given.
The Labor Party also becomes angry and insists that the parties doing the rorting be exposed by the Tax Office.
The haves are delighted – when their accountants inform them that they haven’t broken the rules – and are entitled to keep the money.
The man who sees the world through the prism of his cash registers, Gerry Harvey of Harvey Norman fame, keeps a staggering $22 million is among the worst, but who knows. The government has told the Taxation Office not to reveal those companies who have kept the money. Keep them in the dark seem to be the call.
All because in their rushed need to put the JobKeeper plan in place, they failed to add a little clause that may have said that they would have to pay the money back in the event of any anomalies occurring.
Gerry Harvey says the $3.6m taxpayer subsidy his head office received is "a tiny amount".
Few Australians will earn $3.6m in a lifetime.
He's also pretending the JobKeeper that went to @HarveyNormanAU subsidiaries didn't help him.
— Andrew Leigh (@ALeighMP) February 26, 2021
The double standard comes in when 12,000 people have been issued welfare debts worth a total of almost $33m due to JobKeeper payments, as revealed by Guardian Australia this week.
One such person identified as Jan Raabe and quoted by The Guardian, said:
“I’m just a little person, I don’t have a very large income,” she said. “I don’t own my house. When I heard that certain churches and Harvey Norman and many other people pocketed millions, I feel it is disgusting they just won’t pay it back.
“Why are they allowed to get away with it? Why don’t they have to pay it back?”
Nor did she understand why large companies and non-profits who had projected a loss to claim jobkeeper but then turned a profit, and in some cases paid out dividends or executive bonuses, were not being chased by the government in the same way.
Those with a will, or should I say a moral line in their accountancy principles which have said they will pay the money back include Adairs, Toyota, Rebel Sports, Super Cheap Auto, BFC, Nik Scali, and Dominoes.
Those who have greedily accepted your money are listed in this article by Matthew Elmas in The New Daily.
The Federal Opposition has withdrawn its support for changes that would have required companies to reveal how much JobKeeper funding they received, however:
“Labor initially supported the amendments from independent Senator Rex Patrick after it was revealed at least four-point-six-billion-dollars in JobKeeper support went to businesses that recorded profits.”
Nobody is disputing the timely release of this policy and its effectiveness. However, what is disputed is why the government isn’t demanding that the JobKeeper money taken from the public purse be put back in the same way they are asking ordinary people to do.
The insipid answers they give don’t cut it with the many Australians who are outraged. Indeed, transparency is of the utmost importance in government, as are business ethics and morality. Still, in all fairness, Labor couldn’t put it ahead of families and businesses, who are hurting incredibly.
There will be many who disagree with that decision but Tanya Plibersek has assured supporters that Labor is “still committed” to naming businesses that profited from JobKeeper, despite voting down amendment, she told Patricia Karvelas on RN Drive.
Although I find it hard to agree with, the last thing we need in today’s COVID climate is the side attraction of two parties having a philosophical fight over who is ripping off the people.
Let me make a final point. Finance Minister Simon Birmingham rather gratuitously said that:
“We don’t think it’s appropriate to create a circumstance where now they are vilified with some sort of pretence that they weren’t eligible when they were eligible.”
The straightforward and unspun answer to this is that had they drawn up proper legislation, they wouldn’t have been in those circumstances.
My thought for the day
Economics and society are so inextricably interwoven that we cannot ignore the human cost in our decision making. Conservatives should consider that.
Like what we do at The AIMN?
You’ll like it even more knowing that your donation will help us to keep up the good fight.
Chuck in a few bucks and see just how far it goes!