Tirade from Canberra MP pushes billionaire to pay JobSeeker back

Share Canberra's trusted news:
Canberra MP Andrew Leigh

CORPORATIONS to have bolstered their profits from the Commonwealth’s subsidy to fight the pandemic’s impact will be forced to pay taxpayer’s money back to the Treasury, according to a Canberra MP.

More than $1 billion owed is set to be returned from 65 of the richest Australian companies, costings for the Parliamentary Budget Office has revealed.

Labor member for Fenner, Andrew Leigh, joined the enquiry commissioned by the Greens into unpaid corporate JobKeeper assistance.

The ex-ANU professor of economics has targeted the company of prominent businessman Solomon Lew, whose personal wealth was valued at $3.72 billion last year, courtesy of an extraordinary number of almost vitriolic tweets.

Premier Investments returned on Tuesday (May 4) a small share of the profits that Lew’s Australian Securities Exchange company financially benefited from taxpayers.

“Premier Investments get half a clap for returning $15 million in JobKeeper,” he tweeted. “But they may have gotten as much as $110 million, and they clearly didn’t need a cent.”

Mr Leigh, who has taken on the chief role of Labor’s fiscal watchdog on Jobkeeper matters, had reportedly contacted corporate watchdog, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, to gain full disclosure of the subsidy that Premier Investments gained.

The company, whose purpose is to maximise growth in capital returns to shareholders, had only reported its net earnings at its half-year result that contravenes ASIC guidelines.

“Repaying $15m should be just the start. Last year, Premier set a record profit, paid the CEO a $2.5m bonus and paid a stonking dividend. They don’t need a single dollar of corporate welfare,” Mr Leigh tweeted a day earlier.

The opposition spokesperson for the assistant minister for Treasury also attacked Accent Group after the company that owns Athlete’s Foot and operates more than 400 footwear stores in Australia and New Zealand was found to spent its $45 million JobKeeper cash on buying out other businesses.

“If it wasn’t bad enough that they used JobKeeper as #BonusKeeper & #BillionaireKeeper, they’re now entrenching their market power. Payback time!” Mr Leigh said.

Mr Leigh also revealed that another company that has $24 billion worth of assets currently under management has profited heavily from taxpayers.

“Property developer Mirvac just upgraded its earnings guidance on the back of high-rise sales. But it’s only returning half of the $20 million in JobKeeper it received,” he tweeted.

The federal government has remained lukewarm on forcing multi-million dollar companies paying back Treasury, Prime Minister Scott Morrison sticking to the line the assistance has kept large numbers employed last year during COVID-19.

Mr Morrison was quick to initially praise Super Retail Group, which owns Supercheap Auto, Rebel, Macpac and BCF, for being one of the first corporations to hand back its full $1.7 million in income support back in January.

But Mr Leigh said that was simply not good enough in context of Premier Investment’s way of handling its subsidy.

“Hey @ScottMorrisonMP, how about a hotline where Aussies can report companies that got millions of dollars of JobKeeper, despite increasing their profits, then used it to pay bonuses to millionaire CEOs & dividends to billionaire shareholders?” he tweeted.

Who Can You Trust?

In a world beleaguered by spin and confused messages, there's never been more need for diverse, trustworthy, independent journalism in Canberra.

Who can you trust? Well, for more than 25 years, "CityNews" has proudly been an independent, free, family-owned news magazine, serving the national capital with quality, integrity and authority. Through our weekly magazine and daily through our digital platforms, we constantly and reliably deliver high-quality and diverse opinion, news, arts, socials and lifestyle columns.

If you trust our work online and believe in the power of independent voices, I encourage you to make a small contribution.

Every dollar of support will be invested back into our journalism so we can continue to provide a valuably different view of what's happening around you and keep citynews.com.au free.

Click here to make your donation and you will be supporting the future of journalism and media diversity in the ACT.

Thank you,

Ian Meikle, editor

Previous articleCIMF / A splendid concert: thanks to all, including Mr Mozart!
Next articleACT Labor MPs call for upgrades to ‘stuffed’ NBN 
After two decades in the writing game, it's fair to say I like to tell a good yarn. The more humanistic the better. There's always a story behind the simple headlines. Because every one has a story to tell...

Leave a Reply