In a statement to the ASX, Harvey Norman reported a profit after tax of $643.91 million in the second half of 2020, up from $301.15 million it recorded in the preceding half.
Harvey Norman said it received approximately $6 million in JobKeeper for its wholesale operations and non-franchised businesses during 2020 — $3.6 million during the second half and $2.4 million during the first half.
Despite the JobKeeper payments, the Harvey Norman board revealed it would be paying a fully franked dividend to shareholders of 20 cents per share, to be paid on 3 May 2021 to shareholders registered on 1 April 2021.
Mr Harvey said in a recent radio interview on 3AW Drive that the JobKeeper money went to “areas of the business that were suffering” during the pandemic.
“It wasn’t as if it went to Harvey Norman regular shops, that didn’t happen,” he said.
“We took a view that the businesses that got the JobKeeper money desperately needed it and the ones that didn’t need it, didn’t get it.”
In response, shadow assistant treasurer Dr Andrew Leigh said he’s not 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.”
Dr Leigh has previously called for an inquiry into the JobKeeper scheme as a growing number of businesses return the stimulus to the government following better-than-expected financial results during 2020.