Amid demands to the Tax Office by opposition parties and crossbenchers to prise open the $90 billion tax payer funded JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme and name the beneficiaries, Federal Labor has revealed almost $200 million in emergency Covid-19 support went to ACT businesses who didn't need it.
Analysis from the Parliamentary Budget Office has revealed that Canberra businesses who increased their turnover during the pandemic claimed a total of $187 million in JobKeeper. Overall, Australian businesses that increased turnover claimed $19.7 billion in JobKeeper.
The now ended JobKeeper scheme supported many workers and businesses during debilitating Covid-19 lockdowns and restrictions. Labor supported it, but has been attacking its implementation.
"JobKeeper was meant to help battlers stay in work, but billions of dollars went to companies that didn't need it," Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Charities Andrew Leigh said.
"Labor wanted JobKeeper to succeed, but Scott Morrison used the program as a giveaway for firms whose revenues were rising rather than falling.
"The typical Australian household paid $2000 to firms with rising turnover. JobKeeper overpayment is the biggest waste of money in Australian history."
The Australian Taxation Office paid out $88.8 billion in JobKeeper payments over the 2020-21 financial year.
On Wednesday, ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr during estimates slammed the economic support package brought in at the beginning of the pandemic, claiming the scheme was an "outrageous" waste of taxpayer funds.
"So we've just seen the most outrageous waste of taxpayer money in Australian history," he said.
"A good idea but appallingly executed that has led to the waste of $187 million of taxpayers money.
"And so I just shake my head it is outrageous what we have learnt today."
The Parliamentary Budget Office analysis, using data from the Tax Office, compared the turnover of a business in a quarter against the quarter in the previous year.
Labor, the Greens and crossbenchers including independent senator Rex Patrick on Tuesday referred tax commissioner Chris Jordan to Federal Parliament's powerful standing committee of privileges after he "disobeyed the senate" in not revealing the names of businesses with a turnover of $10 million that received JobKeeper payments.
He had refused on privacy grounds, as taxpayers had provided information on the basis it would stay confidential.
Senator Patrick has accused the tax commissioner of "disobeying" a lawful order of the Senate in failing to produce requested documents and interfering with the power of the senate.
He also wants the privileges committee to investigate whether any contempt of the senate has been committed.
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