On Friday, Australia’s largest homewares retailer reported a $462 million profit for the six months to 31 December 2020 — a 116 per cent increase for the corresponding period the year before.
Harvey Norman revealed that it received $3.6 million in JobKeeper payments for its wholesale operations and non-franchised businesses over the past six months, and $2.4 million for the first half of 2020.
The company had previously revealed that it received $7.6 million in wage subsidies for Harvey Norman franchisees in the last financial year, but failed to disclose recent payments in its latest half-year report.
When queried by 3AW’s Tom Elliott on whether businesses had a moral obligation to return JobKeeper payments in light of increased profits, Mr Harvey said “it all depends on the business and where the JobKeeper money went”.
“[It] went to areas of our business that was suffering at the time,” Mr Harvey said.
“It’s not as if it went to Harvey Norman regular shops, that didn’t happen.
“We took a view that the businesses that got the JobKeeper money desperately needed it and the ones that didn’t need it, didn’t get it.”
Shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh has continued to maintain pressure on Harvey Norman and other large corporates who have posted a surge in profits and paid out executive bonuses and dividends while receiving JobKeeper payments.
“I’m frankly not quite sure how Harvey Norman managed to qualify for JobKeeper, but they did and they’ve managed to get significant subsidies for head office and for the franchisees,” Mr Leigh said last week.
“The fact is that when we’ve got a million people out of work and a million other people wanting more hours, the challenges of climate change and declining productivity, Australia needs money to spend on important investments.
“We don’t need to be subsidising Gerry Harvey.”
Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.