Toyota Australia president and CEO Matthew Callachor said the move was the “right thing to do as a responsible corporate citizen” after it recorded strong sales in the final quarter of 2020.
Around 1,400 of Toyota’s employees were on JobKeeper after the car manufacturer qualified for the wage subsidy program in the middle of last year after its revenue fell by more than 50 per cent.
However, the company posted a record fourth-quarter total of 66,179 vehicles, a gain of 29.1 per cent over the same period in 2019.
The surge in sales saw Toyota deliver a total of 204,801 vehicles for the year, retaining its title as the best-selling car brand for the 18th consecutive year.
“Like most businesses, Toyota faced an extremely uncertain future when the COVID-19 health crisis developed into an economic crisis that even led to dealerships closing for extended periods in Victoria and Tasmania,” Mr Callachor said.
“We claimed JobKeeper payments to help support the job security of almost 1,400 Toyota employees around Australia — the people who are our first priority.
“In the end, we were very fortunate to weather the storm better than most, so our management and board decided that returning JobKeeper payments was the right thing to do as a responsible corporate citizen.”
The return of JobKeeper payments comes after key figures within the government reaffirmed their decision to end the program by March despite a number of industries continuing to struggle due to border closures and state-imposed lockdowns.
Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack said a wide range of businesses, starting at “A, accountants, and you could work right through to Z, zoos and everything in between”, had told him that JobKeeper needed to end by March.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg also noted that 2.2 million workers and 450,000 businesses had dropped off JobKeeper after September 2020, a sign that the program had done its job in helping businesses weather the downturn.
“It was always meant to be a temporary program, it was always designed to help get businesses to the other side, and it’s not the only support measure that we have in place,” he said.
“It was initially legislated for six months, and as you know, we extended it for another six months. But it is a program that goes to the end of March.”
Jotham Lian is the editor of Accountants Daily, the leading source of breaking news, analysis and insight for Australian accounting professionals.
Before joining the team in 2017, Jotham wrote for a range of national mastheads including the Sydney Morning Herald, and Channel NewsAsia.