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Large companies can keep profiting off ‘secret’ JobKeeper payments

Large companies who received JobKeeper wages will be allowed to keep the payments a secret.

This recent development comes after the federal government rejected a bill calling for transparency from the companies.

The move was spearheaded by the independent senator, Rex Patrick, who was able to pass the bill through the Senate. The Labour Party also shared their support for the politician’s move.

JobKeeper money
Image: TND

“The amendment requires the Tax Commissioner to publish all of the companies who earn more than $10 million who have received JobKeeper and the amount they have received,” explained Patrick.

“It’s a transparency amendment.”

However, the Liberal Party believed that the bill would create unnecessary hostility towards the companies that gained profits over 2020, such as electronics retailer Harvey Norman.

Of course, any large company that turned a profit during the hellscape of 2020 due to support payments designed to help struggling businesses, may face some ‘hostility’.

While many have demanded that these companies repay the money they were given, Finance Minister Simon Birmingham defended the government’s stance.

“[The businesses were under] genuine threat of long-term lockdowns and shutdowns,” Birmingham said.

“For many it ended up being a slightly better proposition than expected at that stage.”

Birmingham hammered his point home by stating: “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 minister concluded his statements by reiterating the positive outcome of the JobKeeper scheme.

“The actions of [the] government and those businesses saved many thousands, if not millions, of Australian jobs and remains an important part of our economic recovery,” Birmingham said.

Despite the challenges he has faced in getting the bill approved, including the Labor Party eventually dropping their support for it, Patrick has stated that he will continue working towards making it a reality.

“[The Labor Party] absolutely aligned with me and others that JobKeeper payments should be made public … I hope [they] … will support my amendment and insist that it remain in the bill. If they don’t … that just means they are pretending that they stand for something,” insisted Patrick.

According to the ABC, “90 per cent of the $225 million in JobKeeper subsidies” that were handed out have already been returned to the government.

Specifically, they were “coming from publicly-listed companies”.

Domino’s Pizza, Premier Investments, Cochlear and Illuka Resources have all been vocal about returning their payments.

Much of the controversy stems from private companies, as they are under “no obligation” to share their financial situations with the public.

Patrick will take the bill back to the Senate today.