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Tuesday, 1 September 2020
Page: 6156

Dr LEIGH (Fenner) (13:51): When the coronavirus recession hit, most firms recognised there's a social contract: get a wage subsidy from the taxpayer and do right for workers. But some companies didn't understood that JobKeeper was designed to keep people in work, not pad corporate profits. Half the shares in Australia are owned by the top fifth of the population, so converting JobKeeper into 'DividendKeeper' takes a program designed to reduce inequality and uses it to increase inequality.

Crown Casino received $111 million in JobKeeper and paid a dividend of $203 million. One-third will go to a billionaire. ARB received $8 million in JobKeeper and will pay a $16 million dividend. Adairs received $18 million in JobKeeper and its New Zealand equivalent and paid $11 million to shareholders. Harvey Norman and its franchisees received $9 million and will pay $75 million in dividends. Half will go to a billionaire. Accent Group received $14 million in JobKeeper and will pay a total dividend of $50 million this year.

In other countries, regulators are asking firms to choose between getting government handouts and paying dividends. In New Zealand, Mainfreight paid back its taxpayer subsidies. They said, 'We didn't deserve it.' But these companies I've named are too stingy to pay it back, and the Treasurer is too gutless to ask them to do it.