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senate vote 2020-11-10#13

Edited by mackay

on 2020-11-27 11:32:52

Title

  • Bills — Economic Recovery Package (Jobmaker Hiring Credit) Amendment Bill 2020; in Committee
  • Economic Recovery Package (Jobmaker Hiring Credit) Amendment Bill 2020 - in Committee - Executive bonuses

Description

  • <p class="speaker">Louise Pratt</p>
  • <p>I implore the government to look more directly at the transparency and oversight of this scheme, so I move opposition amendment (1) on sheet 1096:</p>
  • <p class="italic">(1) Schedule 1, page 3 (before line 27), before item 5, insert:</p>
  • The same number of senators voted for and against an [amendment](https://www.openaustralia.org.au/senate/?gid=2020-11-10.192.1) introduced by West Australian Senator [Louise Pratt](https://theyvoteforyou.org.au/people/senate/wa/louise_pratt) (Labor), which means it was unsuccessful.
  • ### Amendment text
  • > *(1) Schedule 1, page 3 (before line 27), before item 5, insert:*
  • >
  • > *4E After section 7*
  • >
  • > *Insert:*
  • >
  • > *7E Requirements for rules that provide for jobmaker hiring credit scheme—ineligibility for paying increased executive bonuses*
  • >
  • > *(1) This section applies if rules are made for the purposes of subsection 7(1A) that provide for a kind of payment known as the jobmaker hiring credit.*
  • >
  • > *(2) The rules must provide that an entity is not eligible for the payment at any time during the relevant period if:*
  • >
  • >> *(a) during the period beginning on 1 March 2020 and ending at the end of the relevant period the entity pays a bonus to an executive or other officer of the entity; and*
  • >>
  • >> *(b) the Commissioner is satisfied that the amount of the bonus exceeds the amount of the last such payment made by the entity to the officer.*
  • ### What does the bill do?
  • According to the [bills digest](https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Bills_Legislation/bd/bd2021a/21bd023):
  • > *The purpose of the Economic Recovery Package (JobMaker Hiring Credit) Amendment Bill 2020 (the Bill) is to amend the Coronavirus Economic Response Package (Payments and Benefits) Act 2020 (the Payments and Benefits Act) to enable payments to be made to help improve people’s prospects of gaining paid employment or to increase workforce participation, between 7 October 2020 and 6 October 2022.*
  • >
  • > *The Bill also allows for the establishment of a scheme related to one or more of the payments intended to help improve people’s prospects of gaining paid employment or increasing workforce participation.*
  • <p class="italic">4D Before section 8</p>
  • <p class="italic">Insert:</p>
  • <p class="italic">7D Requirements for rules that provide for jobmaker hiring credit scheme&#8212;evaluation of the scheme</p>
  • <p class="italic">(1) This section applies if rules are made for the purposes of subsection 7(1A) that provide for a kind of payment known as the jobmaker hiring credit.</p>
  • <p class="italic">(2) The rules must require that:</p>
  • <p class="italic">(a) an evaluation of the scheme for the jobmaker hiring credit must be conducted 6 months and 12 months after the beginning of the relevant period; and</p>
  • <p class="italic">(b) a report on each of those evaluations must be provided to the Treasurer and published on the Department of the Treasury's website.</p>
  • <p class="italic">(3) Rules made for the purposes of subsection (2) must require that:</p>
  • <p class="italic">(a) each evaluation is conducted within 30 days of the end of the period the subject of the evaluation; and</p>
  • <p class="italic">(b) the report of the evaluation is made publicly available by the end of that 30 day period.</p>
  • <p>The Treasury should be conducting evaluation processes at three and six months, as they did with JobKeeper, and release that data. The evaluation was critically important, and I ask the government to support at least this level of transparency for this scheme. The government hasn't supported any amendments concerning transparency of this scheme that have been moved but should show some goodwill and subject itself to at least a modicum of transparency of this scheme.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Simon Birmingham</p>
  • <p>The government has been continually monitoring and evaluating the impact of COVID on the economy. We've tailored our responses accordingly. This JobMaker hiring credit is a key part of those responses. We will continue to monitor and we will also, no doubt, respond to many different questions through the parliamentary processes and elsewhere in terms of providing information and details as necessary.</p>
  • <p class="italic">The CHAIR: The question is that amendment (1) on sheet 1096, as moved by Senator Pratt, be agreed to.</p>
  • <p>Question negatived.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Louise Pratt</p>
  • <p>I move opposition amendment (1) on sheet 1107:</p>
  • <p class="italic">(1) Schedule 1, page 3 (before line 27), before item 5, insert:</p>
  • <p class="italic">4E After section 7</p>
  • <p class="italic">Insert:</p>
  • <p class="italic">7E Requirements for rules that provide for jobmaker hiring credit scheme&#8212;ineligibility for paying increased executive bonuses</p>
  • <p class="italic">(1) This section applies if rules are made for the purposes of subsection 7(1A) that provide for a kind of payment known as the jobmaker hiring credit.</p>
  • <p class="italic">(2) The rules must provide that an entity is not eligible for the payment at any time during the relevant period if:</p>
  • <p class="italic">(a) during the period beginning on 1 March 2020 and ending at the end of the relevant period the entity pays a bonus to an executive or other officer of the entity; and</p>
  • <p class="italic">(b) the Commissioner is satisfied that the amount of the bonus exceeds the amount of the last such payment made by the entity to the officer.</p>
  • <p>It's really important that economic stimulus measures protect people's jobs, but many large companies that relied heavily on JobKeeper ended up paying large executive bonuses. A good example is Premier Investments, the company behind Smiggle, Just Jeans and Peter Alexander. According to the <i>Sydney Morning Herald</i>, Premier Investments was granted $68.7 million under the scheme. The chief executive received bonuses of $2.5 million in short-term incentives and more than $400,000 in long-term incentives. This is on top of the chief executive's salary of $2.4 million.</p>
  • <p>If the government's going to help pay people's wages so that we can inject life into the economy and recruit more people into the workforce, that money should not be going to firms that are paying big executive bonuses that they can only afford to pay off the back of taxpayer funded schemes like this one.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Simon Birmingham</p>
  • <p>The government rejects this amendment. It's very similar to some of the Greens amendments we saw before. Labor and the Greens seem to be pursuing a series of amendments that would actually narrow eligibility for businesses who want to hire a young Australian to get the support to create that additional job to hire a young Australian. Let's keep in mind, in relation to this scheme, that businesses have to increase the number of people on the payroll, they have to increase the size of their payroll and they are subject then to appropriate auditing in terms of the way this program works.</p>
  • <p>There is nothing wrong, as I said earlier in this debate, with a business making a profit. We want profitable businesses in Australia because profitable businesses hire more people and create more jobs, and that is exactly what we are seeking to achieve. What we want and what we want to ensure, through the safeguards in this legislation, is that there is very clearly a process in place where businesses receive the JobMaker hiring credit only if they are increasing the total headcount on their books and if they are also increasing the total payroll that they pay out&#8212;dual safeguards to make sure the credit is there to help achieve more jobs for more young Australians.</p>
  • <p class="speaker">Mehreen Faruqi</p>
  • <p>There is something absolutely wrong, very wrong, about businesses using taxpayer funded subsidies to pay huge bonuses to their executives and to pay huge dividends to their shareholders&#8212;something so wrong. I'm flabbergasted that you can't see that there is something wrong with that. So the Greens will be supporting this amendment. And I do wish that Labor had supported our amendment to also make sure that companies that have paid huge dividends through this scheme are not able to be part of the scheme. It is exactly the same principle&#8212;exactly the same principle. It's obscene for those companies to pay bonuses to their executives and it's obscene for them to pay dividends to their shareholders through taxpayer funded public subsidies. The Greens will support this amendment.</p>
  • <p class="italic">The CHAIR: The question is that amendment (1) on sheet 1107 moved by Senator Pratt be agreed to.</p>