Labor MP Blasts Harvey Norman For Taking Millions In JobKeeper After ‘Stonking’ Profits
Labor minister Andrew Leigh has taken electronics retailer Harvey Norman to task after the company raked in $644 million in profits for the half-year – despite taking millions in JobKeeper subsidy payments.
The Gerry Harvey-owned retailer reported record earnings during COVID-19 trade, with profit before tax up 113 per cent to a whopping $643.91 million, while sales were up 27 per cent.
The company and its franchisees have been heavily criticised for happily accepting $22 million in JobKeeper during the pandemic, and Labor MP Leigh isn’t letting it go.
“On Monday, I anticipated that Harvey Norman would report a $500m profit for the half-year. Turns out that it was a stonking $644m,” Leigh said.
“Australian taxpayers gave Harvey Norman & franchisees $22m in JobKeeper. They don’t need a cent of it, and should repay it today.”
.@HarveyNormanAu should set the record straight. If sales were up 9% in March 2020 (as told to 60 Minutes), how did it qualify?
* Which Harvey Norman entities claimed JobKeeper?
* Did those entities have any external clients? #PayItBackGerry https://t.co/JnHsVUAzDy
— Andrew Leigh (@ALeighMP) February 26, 2021
Leigh has also questioned how Harvey Norman qualified for JobKeeper in the first place, particularly after Gerry boasted he wasn’t concerned about COVID-19 impacting sales during a car-crash 60 Minutes interview in March last year.
“The puzzle is how Harvey Norman head office ever qualified for JobKeeper. Some retailers saw an initial sales slump, but in March 2020, Gerry Harvey told 60 Minutes that his sales were up 9%. Did he get JobKeeper by incorrectly forecasting a sales drop?” Leigh continued.
Leigh started the slogan: “Pay it back, Gerry” during a speech at the House of Representatives, slamming the 80-year-old retail magnate for accepting a taxpayer funded handout.
“Gerry Harvey says the $3.6m taxpayer subsidy his head office received is “a tiny amount”. Few Australians will earn $3.6m in a lifetime. He’s also pretending the JobKeeper that went to @HarveyNormanAU subsidiaries didn’t help him. Pay it back, Gerry. All of it,” Leigh added on Twitter.
Harvey Norman has admitted the increase in profits and decrease in operating costs was offset by a reduction in rental income received from franchisees for leased franchised complexes.