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How Did Harvey Norman Get JobKeeper? Gerry Harvey Slammed Again

COMMENT: Days after Harvey Norman handed back $6M in JobKeeper payments to the Federal Government, billionaire Chairman Gerry Harvey is being pillored by the mainstream media with many commentators questioning how the big retailer and his franchisees got JobKeeper payments in the first place.

Joe Aston writing in the Financial Review claims everything that Gerry Harvey has exquisitely crystallised for the nation, is everything that is wrong with JobKeeper and with him.

Elizabeth Knightly writing in the Sydney Morning Herald claimed that the biggest mystery du jour is what prompted Gerry Harvey to repay $6 million of the JobKeeper payments he got now……Not only is he publicly refusing to talk about it, but he is also branding as bullies those who push him on the topic she said.

This week Harvey Norman posted a bumper profit for financial 2021, up 80 per cent off the back of Australian network sales growth of 30 per cent while his questionable franchisees chose to keep an additional $15M in jobKeeper handouts.

When the retailer initially failed to payback the money after raking in more millions in profits in 2020 Gerry Harvey conducted a round of farcical media interviews in which he refused to even discuss his JobKeeper backflip and complained, “I’ve got certain people in the media that keep attacking me all the time.”

Joe Aston pointed out in his column today that he hung up on Rafael Epstein after (groundlessly) accusing the ABC Radio host of bullying him, the outlandish exchange ending with the immortal line: “You still there, Gerry Harvey? Hmmm, that hasn’t happened in a while.”

Harvey who despises Aston called for him to be summarily executed on national television after a 60 Minute interview went pear shaped for Harvey with thousands baying for his execution after some ugly comments.
The billionaire claimed at the start of the COVID pandemic “Why are we so scared about getting this virus?” he told reporter Liam Bartlett. “It’s pretty much nothing to get scared of.”

When Bartlett mentioned the thousands of families particularly in Italy and China who are affected by it, Harvey replied, “But that’s there, we’re here. I’m 80, I should be really scared. Guess what, I’m not really scared.”

The big question is how did Harvey Norman even get JobKeeper in the first place?

On March 22 last year, Gerry in his now legendary 60 Minutes interview celebrated pandemic-driven panic-buying as an “an opportunity” for the retailer, he even bragged that “our sales are up … by 9 per cent on last year!”

When the money was first handed out JobKeeper was supposed to be a program for businesses (of Harvey Norman’s size) experiencing a 50 per cent decline in turnover. So why did it even apply?

Since then, Gerry Harvey has backtracked from his pandemic comments on 60 Minutes.

Aston claims that the mere fact he was able to do so and bank millions of JobKeeper – in full compliance with the law! – tells you everything you need to know about the negligent design of the scheme.
“You could drive a truck full of Westinghouse fridges through the loopholes” he claims.

Then there is the issue of Harvey Norman franchisees who are the Harvey Norman rabble who succeed one minute, fail the next and get propped up by Gerry Harvey when they are struggling.

During COVID lockdowns they have far from struggled.
The Harvey Norman franchising operation recorded a record profit of $628.19 million, an increase of $279.60 million or 80.2%, from $348.59 in the previous year but despite this the individual owners of these stores have chosen to pocket millions in JobKeeper payments.

The payments, to franchisees makes a mockery of Harvey’s claim in February that “it’s not as if [JobKeeper] went to Harvey Norman regular shops, like, that didn’t happen”. That absolutely happened. The franchisees’ money is Gerry’s money claims Aston.

He sweeps their bank accounts on a nightly basis and their sales grew 30 per cent in 2021.

In economic terms, Gerry is still keeping 70 per cent of his nauseating JobKeeper haul.
No wonder he doesn’t want to talk about it.

The AFR concluded “Some people just do the right thing naturally … and then there’s Gerry Harvey”.

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