- The Guardian
- Issue #1955
Yesterday JobKeeper ended, and the Coronavirus Supplement will end later this week. These payments have been vital in ensuring that workers can keep their jobs and those already on some form of government assistance get the extra help they need during this once-in-a-century pandemic.
It is no secret that the Morrison government who, in 2019, so arrogantly touted that the budget would be “back on track” and “back in black,” have been trying to balance the books ever since the 2020-21 budget announcement, much of which hinged on the pandemic receding in 2021. With these cuts, austerity, the hallmark of Coalition policy-making, is shifting back into focus.
Of course, in true Coalition fashion, austerity measures only apply to Australia’s working class and poor. Corporations, on the other hand, will continue to be Australia’s biggest welfare recipients.
Qantas is one such beneficiary. The airline received over $1 billion in corporate welfare as the travel industry became arguably the most affected sector in our economy. However, despite the damage, Qantas managed to increase its market value at over $10 billion, up from $8.5 billion at the end of the 2019 financial year. One would think that the government would place stipulations on receiving such funds as they do with JobSeeker – but they didn’t. Instead, Qantas received this support as the airline laid off thousands of staff while also receiving over $700 million in JobKeeper payments. Qantas is set to receive hundreds of millions of dollars more this year as part of the government’s new aviation package in what has been dubbed by many as “QantasKeeper.”
However, Qantas was not the only corporation to receive special treatment during the pandemic. In April last year, a $100 million pandemic rescue package was announced for the nation’s media. The package was intended to help already struggling regional newspaper and provide a $41 million tax rebate for free-to-air TV and radio broadcasters. Foxtel, Australia’s cable television company, was not included in the package. Foxtel chief executive Patrick Delany publicly expressed his “extreme [disappointment]” to the Australian Financial Review, and the day after the rebate was delivered, wrote to Communications Minister Paul Fletcher. Within weeks the government fast-tracked $17.5 million in funds to Foxtel – $7.5 million in early payments of government grants and an additional $10 million grant. According to the ABC, “the decision was fast-tracked through Cabinet breaking the normal ‘10 Day Rule’ intended to give ministers time to assess proposals.” The $10 million in grant money is perhaps the most egregious aspect of this package as it was given without Foxtel presenting a plan for the use of the money! Foxtel has already been the subject of funding controversies. It was barely four years ago that Foxtel was awarded a $30mil contract to broadcast underrepresented sports that was never tendered on the open market for free-to-air broadcasters such as the ABC, Nine, Ten or Seven. What makes all this worse is that Foxtel is a subscription service meaning that taxpayers must pay again if they wish to watch sports their tax dollars have already paid for.
Those who are unemployed or need financial assistance from the government are constantly required to meet the terms of their payments or fill out long, invasive forms to prove their eligibility. There is almost zero forgiveness or help when it comes to meeting the requirements, and many are left without the resources needed to get their lives on track. However, if you’re a corporation, the government seems to become your own personal piggy bank where you can take funds with very little scrutiny or consequences.
The CPA is dedicated to ensuring that corporations won’t squander taxpayers’ money and that funds are going to the people who need it most – working-class families and the poor. The Communists, the CPA’s electoral expression, needs help with its registration so that it can fight for you. Please register at cpa.org.au/communists-registration so that we can fight for a better future for all!