Kerry Stokes, Solomon Lew and Alan Joyce
Kerry Stokes, Solomon Lew and Alan Joyce (Images: AAP)

Public companies rarely hand back government grants they don’t need but that’s precisely what Super Retail Group did yesterday morning when it unveiled a surprise doubling of net profit for the December half and disclosed it was voluntarily going to return $1.7 million of second half JobKeeper payments.

Super Retail is 29.8% owned by secretive Brisbane billionaire Reg Rowe, 76, who sits on the board overseeing his $766 million stake in the company which operates four retail brands: Rebel, BCF, Super Cheap Auto and Macpac Australia. Only its New Zealand operations and Macpac qualified for $6.5 million in wage subsidy payments disclosed in the 2019-20 full year results.

The $1.7 million voluntary hand back was
welcomed by Treasurer Josh Frydenberg yesterday and the disclosure sparked
plenty of media interest from the likes of The Guardian and ABC radio’s PM
program
.