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Big businesses that receive JobKeeper and pay out dividends should be cut loose and made to repay funds

Media Release
Peter Whish-Wilson 11 Aug 2020

Greens Treasury spokesperson Senator Peter Whish-Wilson has called for big companies that are paying out dividends from their profits or buying back shares whilst on JobKeeper, to return the money and no longer be made eligible for the payment.

Senator Whish-Wilson has today written to Treasury proposing the change to JobKeeper eligibility.

"The fact that the average citizen right now is worried about job security and making ends meet, whilst large companies are getting Government hand-outs and buying up shares, is simply obscene.

"Australians will see this as a rort and they are right - this is simply corporate welfare, which is neither fair nor affordable. 

"While childcare workers, university staff and casuals employed for less than 12 months have been excluded in the name of 'limiting costs', the blatant transfer of public money to shareholders should not be allowed to continue.

“Shareholders themselves are also concerned about a lack of transparency on this.

“They have no way of knowing exactly which companies they've invested in have revenues down more than 50 per cent at the moment. 

“Since COVID-19, easing of reporting requirements around continuous disclosure on the ASX has also left many shareholders in the dark.
 
“Whilst it’s understandable that things are in flux, in such an environment the lack of transparency risks the mispricing of assets on markets and much worse.

“It’s pretty simple: if companies have paid out dividends or bought back shares whilst receiving JobKeeper, they need to return that money to the public and they should no longer be eligible.
 
“I would expect small businesses to be excluded from this due to the complications with dividends being part of their income, for example partnerships, but it should apply to big business. 

“The Greens will be asking Treasury at the Select Committee on COVID-19 hearing this Friday for an update on this."

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