Australian tennis great Margaret Court is at the centre of a fresh controversy after her Perth-based church reportedly received more than $500,000 in JobKeeper payments since last year.
As first revealed by The Guardian, Victory Life Centre received more than $280,000 between April and June last year, despite its revenue barely decreasing.
Religious institutions were at the time entitled to one $1500 JobKeeper payment per fortnight for each eligible employee whose revenue fell by more than 15 per cent.
But according to the report, Victory Life Centre’s revenue fell by about 0.72 per cent (approximately $19,669) during the 2019/20 financial year, excluding government subsidies.
Victory Life Centre treasurer James Chan told The Guardian the church has in total received more than $500,000 in JobKeeper.
Mr Chan also claimed the church’s revenue dropped 17 per cent in the month of April 2020, which made them eligible for JobKeeper.
“Without the JobKeeper we would just have broke even,” he said.
“We are very grateful to the government.”
Margaret Court attending the Australian Open last year.Source:Getty Images
According to Australian Taxation Office statistics, 3500 religious institutions across Australia have received JobKeeper payments, totalling about $627 million.
Court told The Guardian her church had not previously received any government support and she personally did not collect any JobKeeper.
Greens Senator Janet Rice tweeted: “Morrison Gov wouldn‘t help universities or casual workers, delayed support for Victorians in May lockdown, are hounding people on Centrelink, & won’t raise JobSeeker to #80aDay so people don‘t have to live in poverty. But yeah, fine to give bigot Margaret Court’s church a handout.”
if you got a cent of jobseeker that you weren't entitled to, the government will harvest your organs to repay the debt but margaret court – who continues to push her homophobic agenda – copped a cheeky half a mil. make it make sense! https://t.co/1ZtlpcnIYy
Victory Life Centre received the JobKeeper payments after telling followers they didn’t need to worry about the coronavirus pandemic because the “Blood of Jesus” would protect them.
“Your health and safety is a top priority for us and we have taken a proactive approach to keep our church family health and safe,” the Victory Life Church said in a statement last March.
“We are in agreement that this Convid-19 (sic) will not come near our dwelling or our church family.
“We are praying daily for you, knowing that we are all protected by the Blood of Jesus.”
The statement also featured a bible verse that read: “No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling.”
Margaret Court won a record 24 grand slam singles titles in her career.Source:Getty Images
Earlier this year, Court was awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia, the nation’s highest honour.
But the decision to give the award to the outspoken anti-LGBT figure was criticised by Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who said her vocal opposition to same-sex marriage and support of gay conversion therapy should exclude her from receiving the award.
Court hit back at criticism, saying the honour was for her 24 grand slam wins as a tennis player and “was a long time coming”.
Journalist Kerry O’Brien rejected his OAM and LGBTIQ advocate Dr Clara Tuck Meng Soo handed back her OAM as a direct result of Court being awarded the Companion of the Order of Australia.
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