The Government Handed Out Nearly 12,000 Debt Letters To People On COVID Welfare Payments

Meanwhile, billion dollar companies like Harvey Norman continue to be let off the hook.

Jobkeeper Debt

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The Morrison Government is chasing nearly 12,000 people with debt notices claiming they were overpaid with JobKeeper, all the while letting big businesses who also received the wage subsidy payment get away scot-free.

Services Australia claim that $32 million was overpaid to JobKeeper recipients by April this year, who would have also received Centrelink payments to get by during this financially challenging time.

The now defunct JobKeeper payment came under the ATO, giving money to companies so they could keep staff on payroll, while JobSeeker and Austudy are welfare payments for individuals through Centrelink.

Uber driver Hassan told SBS that his tax agent recommended he apply for JobKeeper after losing work, before being slapped by the ATO with a $28,000 demand to give it back.

Despite this, the list of well off organisations and companies who received JobKeeper, returned a profit, and refused to pay back any of the money seems to never end — in a total that amounts to $4.6 billion.

“It is outrageous that people on income support have debt notices — where are the debt notices for the billionaires?” Greens Senator Rachel Siewert said in a recent statement.

Just on Monday, it was revealed that companies like Seven West Media and furniture chain Nick Scali rewarded their executives with fat million-dollar bonuses, while kicking up a stink about repaying their JobKeeper money.

Last week, Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said the government wouldn’t chase these companies for the cash back. “We don’t think it’s appropriate to create a circumstance where now they are vilified with some sort of pretence that they weren’t eligible when they were eligible,” he said to media.

Once again workers are taking the fall for the government’s malicious, and now numerous, welfare crackdowns. It was only in June that the LNP’s Robodebt scheme was taken to court for unlawfully pursuing repayments during a multi-billion dollar class action suit against them.