JobKeeper clawback would have muted the recovery: Treasury

Federal Treasury has released its review of the first six months of the JobKeeper program.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says the review finds the $90 billion program was “well-targeted and highly effective in maintaining employment and supporting the economy during the biggest economic shock since the Great Depression”.

Labor has criticised wasteful spending in the program, including the $13 billion in payments to businesses that recorded increases in revenue during the COVID-19 crisis and those paying executive bonuses.

The report confirms some businesses did not experience the 30 per cent or 50 per cent decline in turnover required to receive payments, but says many “were still significantly impacted by COVID-19”.

Treasury did not include a clawback mechanism for the funds paid out “reflecting a desire to avoid any disincentives for businesses to adapt and recover,” the review says.

It says the introduction of “such a mechanism would likely have reduced the overall level of activity and muted the recovery”.

“Treasury’s report on the first six months of JobKeeper clearly demonstrates that the program did what it was intended to do. It kept employers and employees connected. It saved more than 700,000 jobs and it supported Australia’s world-leading economic recovery,” the Treasurer says.

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