The FWO is looking into Just Group’s JobKeeper after it received around $70 million in payments during the worst of the coronavirus crisis, according to a report from the Sydney Morning Herald.
Owned by Premier Investments, Just Group is a retail conglomerate owning brands including Peter Alexander, Smiggle, Just Jeans, Dotti and Jay Jays.
In a recent statement to the ASX, Premier said it was eligible to receive “JobKeeper 1” during the months of August and September 2020, noting that the loss of gross profit in Victoria during government-enforced store closures during that time more than offset the wage subsidy support.
As a result, Premier said it was not eligible to receive “JobKeeper 2”, running from October 2020 to March 2021.
Responding to the report, shadow assistant treasurer Dr Andrew Leigh said that, however this investigation turns out, Premier Investments chairman Solomon Lew should repay the millions the company has received in JobKeeper.
“If they’re profitable enough to afford to pay a $2 million CEO bonus and $57 million dividend, they don’t need a government handout,” Dr Leigh said on Twitter.
Dr Leigh also recently called out Harvey Norman chairman Gerry Harvey for deciding to keep its JobKeeper payments even though it recorded a profit of 116.3 per cent for the half year ending 31 December 2020.
He said he wasn’t quite sure how Harvey Norman managed to qualify for JobKeeper.
“But they did and they’ve managed to get significant subsidies for head office and for the franchisees,” Dr Leigh said.
“The fact is that when we’ve got a million people out of work and a million other people wanting more hours, the challenges of climate change and declining productivity, Australia needs money to spend on important investments. We don’t need to be subsidising Gerry Harvey.”