Uproar over $500,000 JobKeeper payments for Margaret Court's church

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Margaret Court, pictured here during a Hall of Fame ceremony at the Australian Open in 2020.
Margaret Court looks on during a Hall of Fame ceremony at the Australian Open in 2020. (Photo by Morgan Hancock/Getty Images)

Margaret Court's Pentecostal church is at the centre of controversy after it emerged it had received more than $500,000 in JobKeeper payments despite revenue barely decreasing.

The Guardian revealed on Wednesday that Victory Life Centre - founded by Aussie tennis great Court - received more than $280,000 from the government scheme from April to June last year.

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Victory Life Centre's treasurer James Chan told the publication the church received a total JobKeeper sum over $500,000 and a $50,000 cashflow boost from a federal government grant.

At the time, religious institutions were eligible for JobKeeper payments if actual or projected revenue fell by more than 15 per cent compared to the previous year.

According to The Guardian, Victory Life Centre’s revenue fell by $19,669 to $2.7 million, which would be a 0.72 per cent loss.

But Chan said revenue dropped by 17 per cent in the month of April 2020.

“That made us eligible for the JobKeeper,” he said. “Without the JobKeeper we would just have broke even.”

There are no suggestions the church was not eligible for the payments.

Chan told The Guardian the church received about $220,000 before June 30 last year and an additional $300,000 since.

Court, who founded Victory Life Centre in 1995, said the church's charity arm “puts out 75 tonnes of food a week” and the JobKeeper payments were "a great help to us at the time as people [using the service] doubled."

The revelation that Court's church received over $500,000 hasn't gone down well on social media, with many believing there are others more deserving.

Margaret Court church slammed over Covid claims

Court and her church were slammed in March last year when they claimed followers were ‘protected’ from coronavirus.

Victory Life Church released a statement when Covid-19 first hit Australia, telling followers they were "protected by the Blood of Jesus".

“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 statement read.

“We are in agreement that this Covid-19 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.”

Margaret Court, pictured here during the 2019 Fed Cup final official dinner.
Margaret Court looks on during the 2019 Fed Cup final official dinner. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Nevertheless, the church said hand sanitiser would be provided to followers.

The statement also contained a bible verse, reading: “No evil shall befall you, nor shall any plague come near your dwelling.”

Court was promoted to a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in January, a decision that sparked widespread backlash.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews was among the many to slam the move, labelling her views "harmful".

The 79-year-old has caused outrage in recent years with her controversial views on the LGBTI community and same-sex marriage.

Court won 24 grand slam singles titles across her illustrious tennis career and was the first female Australian to win Wimbledon in 1963.

She has previously described homosexuality as an “abominable sexual practice” and made disparaging remarks about transgender children.

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