JobKeeper’s overpayments should be returned to taxpayers, voters say

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Twenty-seven percent said they were undecided or neutral on the issue. Only 9 percent said they were opposed, of which 3 percentage points were strongly opposed. The margin of error was plus or minus 2.5 percent.

Andrew Leigh says JobKeeper’s overpayments are “the biggest waste of money in Australian history”.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

Union leader Andrew Leigh said more JobKeeper money went to businesses with increased revenues than the federal government spent each year on public schools.

He said that while similar programs in the United States and New Zealand required public disclosure of information about how much taxpayer money went to businesses, in Australia it was still a secret.

“The JobKeeper overpayment is the biggest waste of money in Australian history, and the Morrison government will do nothing about it,” he said. “The Morrison government has yet to explain how giving money to companies with rising incomes saved a single job. Tons of taxpayer-funded bonuses for millionaire CEOs and dividends for billionaire shareholders. “

This week, the government pushed back on Senate requests to release information from the Australian tax office that would include a list of employers with more than $ 10 million in annual turnover who received JobKeeper, the number of people they employed and the amount of JobKeeper. They received.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg told the Senate that disclosure of the information “would harm the business interests” of companies that received JobKeeper. He noted that this could also put competitive pressure on companies, especially private companies.

Labor and interbank senators are planning to change a tax law the government is trying to pass through the Senate. This amendment is in line with his request to the ATO to publish information on companies receiving JobKeeper.

Debate over the legislation, which affects the tax deductibility status of gifts and the country’s offshore banking unit, ended abruptly this week, with the government growing fears that the proposed amendments would be passed by the Senate.

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If passed, the government will have to decide whether to abandon its tax changes or allow more transparency around JobKeeper.

Independent Senator Rex Patrick said the public has a right to know how much public money is going to businesses.

“Jobkeeper was a wage subsidy program for businesses significantly affected by COVID-19. And yet, some companies took it, improved their profits and then paid bigger dividends to their shareholders and bonuses to their executives, ”he said. “Those companies that abused the goodwill of taxpayers should pay it back.”

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