The shadow assistant treasurer, Andrew Leigh, has claimed in parliament that some Australian companies are misusing the jobkeeper scheme by channelling millions of dollars into executive bonuses.
In a speech to parliament on Monday night, the Labor frontbencher attacked companies including IDP Education, which employs Australia’s highest-paid chief executive, and Star Casino.
He also attacked companies who used the jobkeeper supplement to prop up payments to shareholders, calling the manoeuvre “dividendkeeper”.
“Recessions hit the poor hardest, which is why Australia followed many countries around the world in implementing a wage subsidy scheme,” Leigh said.
“But a scheme designed to reduce inequality is being misused by a small number of firms, who are channelling it to executive bonuses.”
He said IDP received $4m in jobkeeper payments and gave Barkla a $600,000 bonus.
According to data compiled by the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors, Barkla was paid $37.7m last year – a record figure over the six years in which the group has surveyed executive pay.
Leigh said shoe retailer Accent Group, which runs stores under brands including The Athlete’s Foot, received $13m in jobkeeper and paid its CEO, Daniel Agostinelli, a $1.2m bonus.
“Star Casino received $64m in jobkeeper, and gave CEO Matt Barkier an equity bonus worth $800,000,” he said.
He attacked furniture retailer Nick Scali and dentist chain 1300 Smiles for taking jobkeeper and “diverting money for workers into shareholder payouts”.
As Guardian Australia has previously reported, the Scali family stands to reap about $2.5m in dividends and 1300 Smiles managing director Daryl Holmes is in line to get about $1.8m.
“If you’re getting taxpayer subsidies, the CEO shouldn’t be getting a bonus,” Leigh said.
Source: The Guardian