Jobkeeper Subsidy Shamed Harvey Norman Boss Chases Tips At Ray Hadley Wedding
“Subsidy shame” and Harvey Norman go hand in hand, but it has not stopped Chairman Gerry Harvey splashing his JobKeeper gains on the horses even at Ray Hadley’s wedding.
In fact, it appears that Gerry Harvey was more interested in getting betting tips than listening to wedding chit chat at the weekend, as he engaged in sideline chat with former Jockey’s and owners ahead of the running of the Golden Slipper.
His attendance at the wedding follows a growing backlash against profitable retailers such as Harvey Norman, who banked taxpayer funded JobKeeper stimulus cash, while making millions in profits and then paying out millions in bonuses and dividend, Gerry Harvey says the backlash over JobKeeper repayments is a non-issue.
As the anti-Harvey Norman voices get louder Gerry Harvey is trying to spin the issue out claiming the Federal Government will get their JobKeeper payments back in taxes.
Harvey Norman took millions in JobKeeper handouts despite benefiting from the strongest surge in spending on homewares, furniture, and appliances in decades, with consumers flush with cash from stimulus cheques, early superannuation withdrawals, and unspent holiday funds.
The AFR reported that the company raised its interim dividend to 20¢ a share after net profit soared 116 per cent to $464.3 million. Group sales from franchise and company-owned stores overseas soared 26 per cent to $5.12 billion, while group revenue climbed 27 per cent to $2.3 billion – even as many locations closed for weeks or months.
Harvey Norman-owned companies received $3.6 million from JobKeeper in the second half of 2020 – all of which was passed to employees. Franchisees received $7 million more and wage subsidies totalled $22 million for the whole of 2020.
Both Gerry Harvey’s Harvey Norman and Solomon Lew’s Premier Investments, have both defied calls to give the funds back.
Labor’s assistant treasury spokesman, Andrew Leigh, has been demanding for months that retail giants Harvey Norman, Premier and other companies sitting on the taxpayer cash, pay it back.
Leigh says the companies that have opted not to repay despite boosting profits are acting like the World War II profiteers shamed by the US Congress and an angry public.
Another person in the firing line of Labor is Myer share owner Solomon Lew.
His Premier’s retail earnings soared 88.5 per cent to $237.8 million in the six months ending in January.
Lew refused calls to pay back the net subsidies of $15.6 million but said the cash would not fund dividends or bonuses, as the company was quarantining it to pay staff that might be stood down in future lockdowns.