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JobKeeper: ‘Pay It Back Gerry” Call As Harvey Norman Pockets Millions

Days out from Harvey Norman announcing their latest financials which are tipped to reveal booming profits Federal shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh has called on the big retailer to repay the millions they got from JobKeeper wages subsidies and not spend it on another race horse.

He has also had a crack at the hundreds of millions paid out to the directors of the Company including Chairman Gerry Harvey and his CEO wife Katie Page.

In the last lot of Harvey Norman financials, it was revealed that dividends paid to Harvey Norman investors last fiscal year totalled some $300 million, with more than $100 million going to Mr Harvey alone.

Gerry Harvey claims he’ll repay JobKeeper through higher taxes.

Harvey Norman has benefited from millions of dollars of taxpayer support through the JobKeeper program, and it is not the only profitable firm to do so, Mr Leigh said.

Many companies have repaid the wages support, including Australia’s largest construction group CIMIC which paid back $20 million, taking the total repayment past $100 million, Mr Leigh claimed yesterday.

“These ethical firms realise that JobKeeper was designed to keep battlers in work, not help billionaires buy their next racehorse,” he said.

“Mr Harvey says his sales have been “going crazy”. So, it’s crazy to think that he needs a taxpayer funded handout. Pay it back, Gerry.”

The bragging Chairman who claims that COVID-19 was “a once-in-a-lifetime retail bonanza” also took millions from the New Zealand Government in hand outs.

Records show that between the start of COVID and June 2020 Harvey Norman was handed over $28M in government support of that $12M came from the New Zealand Government, insiders claim this has risen significantly running into 2021.

The Australian Tax Office has refused to reveal how much Harvey Norman has been handed in JobKeeper subsidiaries, but one insider told ChannelNews “It’s substantial and a nice earner”.

Archrival JB Hi Fi and The Good Guys did not take JobKeeper payments instead they chose to fund their COVID-19 operation that saw several of their stores stay open during the pandemic.

Mr Leigh, a vocal critic of companies posting big profits while pocketing government handouts, told the Australian Financial Review, that dividends paid to Harvey Norman investors last fiscal year totalled some $300 million, with more than $100 million going to Mr Harvey.

Harvey Norman is scheduled to report its first half results this Friday.

It already has flagged sales from company-owned stores overseas and franchised stores in Australia rose 28 per cent in the 20 weeks ended November 21, even though 18 stores were closed in Melbourne for almost three months and 11 stores in Auckland were closed for two weeks because of COVID-19 trading restrictions.

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