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Premier Investments To Pay Back JobKeeper After Richard Murray Appointment

Just days after the appointment of ex-JB Hi-Fi CEO Richard Murray, Premier Investments have decided to refund the $15.6 million it received from the first stage of the JobKeeper payments.

Previously, the company planned to “quarantine” the funds to pay the wages of employees impacted by state lockdowns. They have since decided to reimburse the government instead.

“Subsequent to the ASX release, short snap lockdowns have taken place in Queensland and Western Australia,” the company said.

“During these lockdowns Premier Retail used the “JobKeeper 1″ funds recognised in 1H21 as intended, and in keeping with the Australian Federal Government’s policy of keeping people in jobs, paid the Group’s full time and part time team members their contracted hours whilst they were stood down and unable to attend work.

“Critically, following the lockdowns and upon reopening, increased trading from the combined States has fully offset the cost of supporting our teams through these lockdowns.”

Under Murray’s lead, JB Hi-Fi did not take any of the JobKeeper subsidies.

Despite Harvey Norman’s profits doubling during the pandemic, Gerry Harvey has ignored political pressure to pay back the $22 million his company received from the JobKeeper program.

Labor Minister Andrew Leigh said in February that “Australian taxpayers gave Harvey Norman and franchisees $22m in JobKeeper. They don’t need a cent of it, and should repay it today.” He also questioned whether the retail giant was applicable to receive the payment at all.

“The puzzle is how Harvey Norman head office ever qualified for JobKeeper,” he explained.

“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?”

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