Labor MP Fails To Disclose Harvey Norman Link In Row Over JobKeeper Gouging
Her fellow MPs are up in arms over Harvey Norman pocketing millions in JobKeeper payments but as for Labor’s Meryl Swanson, the member for the Hunter Valley in NSW she thinks there all “sleepwalking off a cliff”.
As Harvey Norman prop up their profits with Government handouts Swanson has gone into bat for the Gerry Harvey controlled business Swanson has been caught out kissing the backside of the big retailer and it’s not surprising that she is as her most recent parliamentary disclosures, lodged only last month, confirm her ongoing “beneficial interest” in the Maitland Superstore Trust No 2, whose main business is the running of a Harvey Norman store.
The register of interests, also reveals she is a shareholder in the furniture and appliances retailer and that her husband Nick Swanson is also the franchisee of Harvey Norman’s Maitland store.
Meryl Swanson also holds Harvey Norman shares directly which means that she is benefiting from the millions in JobKeeper payments that Harvey Norman pocketed.
A senior Labor source who did not want to be named claimed that while Ms Swanson was entitled to raise her grievances, it was unacceptable of her not to declare her interests publicly.
“She should’ve declared it when she made her contribution to the caucus. In fact, it was inexcusable she didn’t,” the party figure said.
Harvey Norman’s founder Gerry Harvey has been slammed from one end of Australia to the other for his actions.
Known as a gloater he chose to give the Federal Government a two-finger salute, while other retailers including Solomon Lew and his Premier Investments and furniture retailer Nick Scali chose to hand their money back after profits came rolling in during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Harvey still robustly refuses to return the subsidy to the taxpayer.
Her husband Nick has run Harvey Norman franchises for the better part of three decades.
His current store is in Maitland, and as his LinkedIn notes, it’s extraordinarily successful, regularly being one of the top 30 performing stores nationwide.
Nick Swanson’s LinkedIn also reveals his founding and past ownership (from August 2002 to November 2005) of cafe Delish, which operated at the Erina Harvey Norman.
The AFR reported “There was an opportunity to open up a new cafe from scratch on the Harvey Norman site,” he wrote. “Gerry Harvey and [Harvey Norman CEO and Harvey’s wife] Katie Page were keen to have a solution for customers … to get food on site.
“Meryl and I approached Katie and put a proposal to her.” And the rest, as they say, is history.
As for Harvey Norman’s franchisees, they benefited to the tune of $7.6 million from JobKeeper in financial 2020 (the total figure is likely closer to $15 million, but that won’t be confirmed until Harvey Norman’s next accounts).