Giant household goods retailer Harvey Norman has repaid more than $22 million it received as JobKeeper payments at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.
Founder Gerry Harvey sat down exclusively with The Bug over a virtual breakfast to explain the company’s change of heart after refusing for months to pay back the money despite showing huge profits during the JobKeeper scheme and extended lockdowns.
The Bug: Thanks for your time this morning, Mr Harvey.
Harvey: Please, please. Just call me Sir. Or as my staff do, Boss.
The Bug: JobKeeper monies were supposed to go to businesses that suffered financially. You didn’t – you actually made big profits – so you must be feeling fairly good about yourself that you’ve done the right thing?
Harvey: Yes, I am. Deep down, I’m a very fair-minded and decent person.
The Bug: And the federal government can surely use the money.
Harvey: Federal government? You’re kidding me, right? We’ve returned the money to the Liberal Party where it belongs.
The Bug: But it was taxpayers’ money!
Harvey: And if we gave it back to the government, who knows where they might spend it. You’d hope not but with an election pending, even an LNP government could be tempted to help the poor in some stupid, pointless way to win some votes.
The Bug: And that would be a bad thing?
Harvey: Of course it would. Give money to the poor and we all know they’lll just spend it on fags, cheap cask wine and the pokies. Why help the poor when they can’t help themselves!
The Bug: That’s a bit tough, isn’t it.
Harvey: Not at all. You increase pensions of any sort and do you really think those freeloaders are going to say thank you by rushing out to one of my stores and buy a fantastic Rimini four piece setting of a three-seat sofa, two armchairs and a rectangular coffee table for only $2799!
The Bug: Aah, I guess not…
Harvey: All with our excellent five year, no interest repayment plan!
The Bug: Well….
Harvey: Do you think a single mother of four snotty-nosed sprogs to six different fathers is going to be interested in a Samsung 230cm TV with faux walnut veneer finish and 24-speaker sound system for a ridiculous $7,999?
The Bug: Okay, okay. We get your point. But can we get back to the fact that you’ve repaid the money to the Liberal Party? Surely that’s not right?
Harvey: Have you seen the latest polls? They need all the help they can get. The Liberals always start any election with campaign funds way below what Labor has available through corrupt, leftwing unions. We’re only helping to create a level-playing field really. And, besides, why shouldn’t my company give a helping hand to the only side of politics that has a clear policy of keeping wages as low as possible to give people like me just a slim chance of making a fair bob?
The Bug: I suppose when you put it that way…
Harvey: By the way, have you seen our latest catalogue? Take one. We’ve got a Sealy Advantage Memory Luxe Queen mattress ensemble for an almost unbelievable $1099.
The Bug: Isn’t that a copy of today’s Daily Telegraph?
Harvey: Well some of it is.