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Monday, 31 August 2020
Page: 6093


Dr LEIGH (Fenner) (16:21): Recessions hit the poor hardest, which is why Australia followed many countries around the world in implementing a wage subsidy scheme. But a scheme designed to reduce inequality is being misused by a small number of firms, who are channelling it to executive bonuses. Accent Group received $13 million in JobKeeper and gave CEO Daniel Agostinelli a $1.2 million bonus. IDP Education received $4 million in JobKeeper and gave CEO Andrew Barkla a $600,000 bonus. Last year he was Australia's highest paid CEO, taking home $37 million. Star Casino received $64 million in JobKeeper and gave CEO Matt Bekier an equity bonus worth $800,000. SeaLink received $8 million in JobKeeper and gave CEO Clinton Feuerherdt a $500,000 bonus. Then there is 'dividend keeper', diverting money for workers into shareholder payouts. Furniture firm Nick Scali received $4 million from Australian and New Zealand taxpayers. Its increased dividend will deliver $2 million to the Scali family. 1300SMILES got $2 million in JobKeeper and paid out $3 million to shareholders. Managing director Daryl Holmes owns two-thirds of the company and so will get about $2 million, roughly what his company received in JobKeeper support. As Ownership Matters' Dean Paatsch puts it: 'I don't think it was ever the intention of the government to subsidise executive salaries. If you're getting taxpayer subsidies, the CEO should not be getting a bonus.'