COVID-19 provides more proof of corporate bloodsucking

Neville Power, Fortescue Metals chief executive, pretending to be a worker.

Every day the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic brings up more proof that in this country the corporate vampires are in charge of the blood bank.

The latest examples are how corporate retail giants Adair and Nick Scali have handed out bumper dividends to shareholders after collecting millions in JobKeeper wage subsidies.

According to an August 11 article in the Australian Financial Review, Adair “received $11.3 million in wage subsidies from JobKeeper and the equivalent New Zealand scheme during the programs’ first three months, and the company is on track to receive millions more over the initial six-month JobKeeper program”.

It reported a 19% rise in net profit and handed out $18.6 million in dividends.

Nick Scali received $3.9 million under JobKeeper and the equivalent New Zealand scheme, recorded a $42.1 million net profit and doubled its dividend.

“The Scali family’s dividend cheque will be about $2.5 million, about 63 per cent of what the company received in JobKeeper payments,” the AFR reported.

As more corporate retailers release their reports over the next few weeks, more examples are likely to follow.

While JobKeeper was marketed by the Scott Morrison Coalition government as a measure to protect jobs during the pandemic, it is turning out to be more of a DividendKeeper or ProfitKeeper scheme.

Apart from the direct subsidies given to these corporations, the JobKeeper subsidy also acts as a boost to employees’ spending, providing a double boost to retail companies.

Further, it is not at all certain how long the jobs subsidised by JobKeeper will be saved. When the subsidy finally comes to an end, these jobs may yet be axed.

Another glaring example is the corporate mining and banking CEO-stacked National COVID-19 Commission Advisory Board (NCC) set up by the federal government to provide it with strategic advice on the country’s economic recovery.

NCC chair Neville Power, a former CEO of mining company Fortescue Metals, recommended on August 11 that the government underwrite major new gas pipelines and associated infrastructure. Among the beneficiaries of such a public subsidy would be Santos, the giant energy company behind the proposed controverial Narrabri gas project in north-west New South Wales.

The public pays in multiple ways for all this corporate welfare. In addition, it is paying in painful and avoidable deaths from COVID-19.

Much of the blame for deaths during the pandemic can be sheeted home to putting the corporate vampires in charge of the blood banks across the economy, through the privatisation and deregulation of aged-care homes and the subcontracting of servicing for the hotel quarantine scheme.

Green Left argues society cannot afford to ignore the gross failure of the profit-first policies of Coalition and Labor governments over decades. The corporate vampires have to be thrown out of the blood banks!

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