The Morrison government’s JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme will come under the auditor-general’s microscope.
The Australian National Audit Office will investigate whether the tax office effectively enforced the program’s rules and protected the integrity of JobKeeper payments.
The audit will also check if the performance of the scheme was adequately monitored and reported on.
Shadow assistant treasurer Andrew Leigh, who requested an audit in December, said JobKeeper needed proper scrutiny.
“The Morrison government has been extremely secretive about JobKeeper,” he said on Wednesday.
“They’ve refused to tell the public how much JobKeeper was paid to firms that increased their profits in 2020, and refused to say how much went to firms that paid executive bonuses.”
More than $80 billion has been spent through the scheme, which makes payments to businesses for wages during the coronavirus pandemic.
Dr Leigh questioned why Harvey Norman needed taxpayers’ cash after owner Gerry Harvey declared the pandemic period to be the “greatest boom” he had ever seen.
“Solomon Lew’s Premier Investments has paid a $2.5 million bonus to its CEO – more than most Australians will earn in a lifetime. So why does Premier Investments need taxpayer support?”
Labor is also calling for extended support for some industries after JobKeeper ends on March 31.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has left the door open to targeted support for sectors that continue to struggle with the impact of the pandemic.
“We have already demonstrated that we will continue to provide targeted support,” he told parliament.
“That is exactly what the government will do.”