Thousands of companies that received JobKeeper payments tripled their turnover while doing so. 

About one in six businesses on JobKeeper saw no fall in turnover during the first three months of the program, and thousands of profitable companies projected drops in turnover that never eventuated.

About $6 billion in JobKeeper went to businesses that increased turnover during both the June and September quarters last year.

There has been some pressure on profitable JobKeeper recipients to repay the taxpayer support.

Retailer Harvey Norman this week announced it had returned $6 million of about $20 million it received while continuing to profit. 

Data from the independent Parliamentary Budget Office shows around 20,000 firms tripled their turnover while accruing approximately $370 million for the three months.

An additional 15,000 firms doubled their turnover while receiving approximately $320 million in JobKeeper.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has defended the lack of interest in retrieving funds paid out in the $90 billion program.

“If [businesses] were going to have to pay back that money, then they wouldn't necessarily have taken it in the first place and you would have seen jobs being lost,” he told reporters.

“If you go back … to what we encountered in March of last year when we introduced JobKeeper, we were staring into the economic abyss.

“This was economic armageddon.

“JobKeeper was a very successful program that was well-targeted and it actually delivered the strong economic recovery,” he said. 

The figures were obtained from the Parliamentary Budget Office by Labor MP Andrew Leigh.

“The idea that we should be giving taxpayer cash to firms that are doubling or tripling their revenues is reprehensible,” Dr Leigh says.

“This is the sort of flagrant misspending of money that you'd expect to see in some tin pot dictatorship, not in a well-run economy like Australia's.

“The intent of the Parliament was never that we would be giving corporate welfare to firms that were doubling or tripling their earnings.

“You didn't save jobs by paying money to firms with rising earnings — they were always going to keep on their staff.

“Paying money that went into the pockets of billionaire shareholders and millionaire CEOs didn't save the jobs of battlers.”