IN eight years of government, the Liberals have overseen more than $770 million worth of misappropriated taxpayer money on pre-election promises, such as carparks and sports grants based on marginal electorates.
I’ve been calling for an anti-corruption commission since well before I was first elected in 2016 and I’m proud to say it’s now an official Labor policy under an Albanese government.
While we cannot undo the rank corruption of the past, we can put measures in place to hold our elected officials to account and ensure crooks go to jail, no matter their public standing.
Public funds are exactly that — public.
It is money contributed by the taxpayer for national benefit.
And it is money the Morrison government simply cannot be trusted with.
Today, I’m putting the Liberals’ self-styled title of “money managers” to rest. We all know about how JobKeeper — a good idea badly implemented by the Liberals — ended up paying $13 billion to firms with rising revenues over the first six months of the program.
Now, updated analysis from the Parliamentary Budget office has found that over the entire 12-month period of the program, an extraordinary $19.7 billion was spent to companies turning a profit.
Let that sink in for a moment.
During a global pandemic, our government handed out almost $20 billion of your taxpayer dollars to businesses who didn’t even need it — $20 billion is equivalent to around $2000 for every Australian household.
This money could be helping thousands of people and small businesses right here in Tasmania who have spent months affected by mainland lockdowns and job insecurity.
And here’s the sucker punch: JobKeeper itself was a great idea.
In fact, Labor had to fight tooth and nail to convince Scott Morrison, who considered JobKeeper a “dangerous idea”, that it was necessary to support Australian workers.
But when push came to shove, the Morrison government showed how incompetent it truly is.
They excluded short-term casual workers with one hand and fed billions of dollars to go to profitable firms with the other.
They excluded and cut funding to public universities — important institutions that deliver key research and developments in medicine and manufacturing — while doling out millions to the likes of Louis Vuitton and Harvey Norman.
And with $19.7 billion out of the total $89 billion JobKeeper program having been paid to firms with rising turnover, we’re left to wrangle with the fact that one-fifth of all JobKeeper payments were made to firms whose revenue was going up, not down.
Now, let me be clear — an Albanese government will not force firms to repay JobKeeper.
That legacy lies well and truly at Josh Frydenberg’s feet and suggestions Labor would impose some kind of automated recovery scheme from government is nothing more than Liberal misdirection.
Here’s what we will do.
Australia has no public register of firms that received wage subsidies.
Labor believes that the Australian Tax Office should publish the names of larger firms (with turnover above $10 million) that received JobKeeper.
This wasn’t Josh Frydenberg’s money — it was taxpayer money, and those who pay the bills have a right to know where it went.