ClearView has committed to consider repaying the $2.4 million it received for JobKeeper at its next board meeting after being pressed on the issue during a parliamentary hearing.
Labor’s Andrew Leigh asked ClearView’s managing director, Simon Swanson, at a House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics whether the life insurer was looking to repay JobKeeper as its calendar 2020 profits were similar to 2019 profits despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s not our intention to repay JobKeeper because we took the view that it was ensuring that staff maintain their employment levels and there would be no need for any redundancies as a consequence,” Swanson said.
“ClearView followed the law and took the view was to do that so that we would not be in position where we would be forced to retrench people. That’s the view we took.”
Leigh said the question was not about following the law but rather if taking corporate welfare was in line with ClearView’s corporate social responsibilities when profits did not fall.
“We were able to maintain employment to make sure our profits didn’t fall and which means we are around to pay the claims in future as an organisation. Financial stability is obviously very important, there have been issues across the industry that you are aware of and that’s why we got to the position we got to,” Swanson said.
Leigh said: “But you’re a life insurer in Australia. You’re highly profitable and it’s not too late to pay it back to the taxpayer. Would your board consider that?”
Swanson said his board would consider repaying the JobKeeper payments at the next board meeting.