Senate debates

Monday, 30 August 2021


COVID-19: Jobkeeper

1:49 pm

Photo of Rex PatrickRex Patrick (SA, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

Over the weekend there was a rallying of business leaders opposing attempts by this chamber to have disclosed the names of companies with a turnover of $10 million or more and the amounts of Jobkeeper payment they have received. When an employer gets money from a bank, that's their business. When an employer gets money from the public, that's public business. It's no different for grants and it's no different for government contracts. Jobkeeper should be treated the same as all other public money that is spent. Jobkeeper was very necessary. It was there to help struggling businesses through a pandemic. Unfortunately, it was abused by some. It was set up, by regulation, to give free taxpayers' money to businesses, under an honesty system that had no requirement for a company who didn't need the money to pay it back. This was a huge prudential blunder by the Treasurer; one that he is now trying to cover up.

Big business coming out on the weekend could be at the call of Mr Frydenberg, or it could be because big business has recognised that Mr Frydenberg is struggling to protect the interests of his fat-cat corporate constituents. Their coming out tells me that I'm doing something right. I won't be backing down. I'll fight for fairness and I will fight for taxpayers.