‘Dividendkeeper’: 17 leading companies receiving jobkeeper paid investors $250m in dividends | Business

Seventeen companies in the top 300 in Australia that received government subsidies paid out dividends to investors totalling more than $250m, according to new research by proxy firm Ownership Matters.

In a report sent to clients on Wednesday afternoon, Ownership Matters, which advises superannuation funds and other investors on corporate governance issues, also said 25 companies in the ASX300 index received jobkeeper support payments and then paid their executives bonuses totalling more than $24m.

The report comes amid attacks by Labor and investors on the practice, dubbed “dividendkeeper”, of using jobkeeper payments – which are supposed to support employment during the coronavirus crisis – to prop up dividend payments to shareholders.

Labor MP Andrew Leigh has also raised concerns over the bonuses paid out to executives at companies that have received government support.

Ownership Matters said that up until 30 June, ASX300 companies received a total of almost $1.8bn in government subsidies, of which at least half was jobkeeper.

The subsidies to some companies with overseas operations also included subsidies from foreign governments.

Qantas received the largest government subsidy of $525m, including $267m in jobkeeper, Ownership Matters said. It did not pay any dividends or bonuses.

“Casino operator Crown Resorts was the next largest recipient of JK [jobkeeper] at $111m, followed by Star Entertainment Group receiving $65m; both entities disclosed that a proportion of JK was paid to employees who continued to work,” it said.

Ownership Matters’ figures do not include department store Myer, which on Thursday announced it received $93.1m in jobkeeper, of which $41m went to pay casual or part-time staff, who are likely to have enjoyed a pay rise as a result.

Myer declared a loss of $172m for the year to 25 July, down from a modest profit of $24.5m the previous year.

Ownership Matters said 17 companies that received government subsidies paid dividends after 30 March, the date jobkeeper was announced and almost a month after the Australian government declared the Covid-19 outbreak was a pandemic.

Those included shoe retailer Accent Group, which received almost $25m in subsidies and paid shareholders more than $20m in dividends, and logistics group Qube, which took almost $20m in taxpayers’ money and paid dividends of more than $40m.

On executive bonuses, Ownership Matters said Star was also the biggest recipient of government subsidy to reward bosses with extra payments.

“The casino operator’s board elected to award bonuses as deferred equity to the disclosed executives at an average 40% of target ($1.39m across four executives including $830,000 for the CEO),” Ownership Matters said in its report.

“The cultural signal of a board deciding to pay – and a management team electing to receive – bonuses in a year where a listed entity received significant government subsidies is an important one for investors to consider, especially for listed entities with significant exposure to government as a regulator or customer.”

It said investors should be aware of the impact of jobkeeper and other subsidies on company accounts.

“Investors should also give consideration to the sustainability of results in cases where employees receiving JK continued to work and so wage expenses for non-stood-down employees were being directly subsidised,” it said.

“Similarly, judgement should be made about the potential impact of temporary reliefs such as rental deferment (or forgiveness) and lending concessions made in favour of ASX listed entities – major listed landlords had disclosed at least $658.5m in rent concessions to tenants in FY20.”

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Councils to tap into $250m pool for public spaces

Sydney councils will each be eligible for up to $5.5 million in funding for parklands, town squares and main streets under a state government scheme aimed at speeding up development assessments for projects that boost jobs and housing.

The $250 million funding program is a further attempt by the NSW government to stimulate economic activity and ensure a pipeline of construction projects amid a severe slowdown sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said councils that fast-tracked assessments of job-creating projects would be given incentives through funding of up to $5.5 million each to spend on upgrading public domains under the state’s public spaces legacy program.

Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes.

Planning and Public Spaces Minister Rob Stokes.Credit:Jessica Hromas

It comes as the government has pushed through determinations for 67 planning proposals and projects worth $17.7 billion, including schools and housing, across the state since the pandemic struck in March. A further 13 projects are due to be decided upon by mid-August after their assessment was sped up.

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Calls for $250m coronavirus arts support package to target culturally diverse artists

There are phone calls for range quotas to be introduced for the distrubution of the government’s $250 million arts help package deal to be certain the coronavirus pandemic does not worsen the less than-representation of culturally and linguistically numerous artists.

The struggling sector is established to receive $250 million truly worth of grants and loans around 12 months less than a COVID-19 restoration deal unveiled by the federal authorities on Thursday, to kick start the industry immediately after the pandemic.

Artists have been amongst the very first employees impacted by COVID-19 as activities and festivals were cancelled, and they continue on to battle due to limits on mass gatherings envisioned to keep on being in put for some time.

Primary Minister Scott Morrison announced the arts funding bundle alongside singer Male Sebastian at a theatre in Sydney’s western suburbs.


Lena Nahlous, director of Variety Arts Australia, informed SBS Information that it was crucial that a part of the funds flowed to culturally and linguistically varied (CALD) staff. 

“We’ve been contacting for grants and funding to be equity tested and there requirements to be embedded into people grants, not only a way to guarantee culturally various artists get funding, but also that those massive institutions and organisations that are supported and offered bailouts… that they actually have range quotas embedded into these grants so that it would not even further widen the hole,” she claimed.

Ms Nahlous said that even in advance of coronavirus strike, there was already beneath-illustration of “culturally diverse artists, or artists of color at all ranges of the arts, monitor and inventive sectors in Australia”. 

A Variety Arts Australia report found 51 per cent of all key cultural organisations had no CALD representation at the management level and only nine per cent of the 1,980 leaders were being CALD Australians. 

These figures are frustrating taking into consideration 39 for every cent of Australia’s populace has a CaLD qualifications, in accordance to the Human Rights Commission. 

Hopes for a more inclusive article-COVID-19 industry

Ms Nahlous hoped the restart of the industry put up-COVID-19 would direct to much more CALD artists currently being provided a reasonable go in any establishments in the arts sector. 

“This is a truly awesome possibility to rebuild a sector, [to] embed equity and inclusion that signifies the genuine breadth of the range of Australia,” she explained. 

“There desires to be higher guidance, not significantly less for individuals groups… I experience like this is an prospect to reset.”

The govt has rejected calls to increase the JobKeeper wage subsidy to far more in the arts sector. 

Instead, the offer contains $75 million in grants for new festivals, concerts, tours, and activities, $90 million in concessional loans, $50 million to help producers unable to get insurance coverage and $35 million for direct monetary aid for Commonwealth-funded organisations.

“This bundle is as a lot about supporting the tradies who create stage sets or personal computer specialists who make the hottest unique effects, as it is about supporting actors and performers in key productions,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison explained on Thursday.

“Many in the sector will locate a new way to function whilst the existing social distancing actions continue to be in place and although that will not likely be uncomplicated, I know there is certainly a solid drive among the all Australians to see the return of gigs, performances, and situations.”


But the director of Sydney’s Sacred New music Competition, which showcases CALD artists, is not optimistic about the government’s most up-to-date announcement.

“A great deal of that dollars won’t reach us, they go to the founded organisations… there is not plenty of dollars aimed at sites like us,” festival director Richard Petkovic said. 

Because of coronavirus limits, the concert has experienced to cancel its regular September occasion, which will see a decline of about $50,000 in funding.

But Mr Petkovic was established not to let the pandemic consider the stage absent from culturally various performers and will maintain a few on the net concert events as a substitute. 

“We’re just funding it from little scraps of revenue we have obtained remaining in our bank account, but not undertaking a festival was not an choice this yr. 


“It’s our 10th yr, these artists rely on us to create these prospects, so our board is actually adamant that we experienced to do anything.” 

‘People will issue us’

Film producer Maria Tran has experienced to move her firm Phoenix Eye Productions, formerly utilizing eight culturally numerous folks, from its Fairfax base to her father’s residence to help save on expenses. 

“If we do not have a area what do we do? But then I imagined, well Alright my father has a space, it can be not accurately the most significant, it doesn’t look specialist, marketplace typical, but it is still a house,” Ms Tran stated.

There are concerns that inequities in the arts industry will be exacerbated in the wake of the pandemic

Maria Tran has shifted to functioning at her dad’s house.

SBS News

The team of 8 has had to acquire a 50 per cent wage cut to stay afloat. 

“To be genuine there are situations when I have to finance via my possess very little piggy financial institution just to retain the income circulation going…it unquestionably has been seriously rough,” she explained. 

She stated that as a team of CALD creatives, they have been pigeon-holed in the sector, and for the reason that of the data seeming to do the job from CALD creatives, she fears her vocation enhancement could be stunted.

“A great deal of the do the job we do is on migrant tales, and I like carrying out migrant stories, but we are the go-to for that and outside the house of that, individuals will issue us,” she claimed. 

“We conclude up getting typecast and trapped with just carrying out distinct projects and over time with the hope and dreams of carrying out something more substantial later on, but we you should not know if that is going to occur in Australia or not.”

Compared to other firms in the sector, Ms Tran reported “we don’t get a possibility to play on the same amount actively playing field”. 

She fears for the company’s long term write-up-COVID-19.

“If I am not intelligent sufficient or impressive or creative adequate …the company may go down.” 

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Arts sector gets $250m for virus kickstart

Artists and entertainers will be able to apply for a slice of a $250 million support package to help the sector recover from coronavirus restrictions.

The package is made up of grants and loans, with a focus on helping touring artists, actors and producers on the stage and screen.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has acknowledged the sector was one of the earliest hit by coronavirus restrictions and will be among the last to return to normal.

He says the package will help a range of jobs throughout the sector while helping tourism and hospitality more broadly.

“This package is as much about supporting the tradies who build stage sets or computer specialists who create the latest special effects, as it is about supporting actors and performers in major productions,” he said.

Critics say it’s far too little, too late.

Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance boss Paul Murphy said it was a slap in the face for workers in the industry who remain ineligible for JobKeeper.

“There is absolutely no relief for freelance and casual workers who have lost their jobs and suffered significant reductions in income,” he said.

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the package fell well short of what was needed.

“The industry itself was calling for a package of close to a billion dollars,” she said.

Arts Minister Paul Fletcher defended the time taken to deliver the support package.

“We think this comes at the right time to get the sector restarted,” he told Nine.

“What we now need to do is get the sector back to work so Australians can see the bands they love, see the performers they love.”

The long-anticipated package includes $75 million worth of grants to help productions and tours return, with funding slices ranging from $75,000 to $2 million.

It also includes measures to help local screen productions and organisations.

A task force on the creative economy will be announced in coming weeks, working with the government and the Australia Council to implement the plan.

The grants and loans will be delivered over the next year.

The government says some of the sector’s 645,000 workers are already receiving $100 million in support measures.

Social distancing requirements have played havoc with the arts and entertainment scene, forcing performance venues to shut their doors.

Mr Morrison will work with the national cabinet to develop a timetable for the entertainment industry with regard to the lifting of restrictions, so they can plan when to reopen.

There remains no clarity on when crowds of more than 100 can gather.

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