Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says support for Victorians is now a matter for the state government after the lockdown ‘dented confidence’.
Victorian authorities are not ruling out a fifth lockdown, saying the way to avoid the harsh Covid-19 measure depends on two things….
Victorian authorities are not ruling out a fifth lockdown, saying the way to avoid the harsh Covid-19 measure depends on two things.
Supporting Victorians is now a matter for the state government, after the lockdown has « damaged confidence » and cost jobs, the treasurer says.
Melburnians woke up Friday to relaxed restrictions after an initial seven-day lockdown was extended until the end of this week as the state got the latest Covid-19 outbreak under control.
The federal government unveiled a new emergency payment in June for Australians trapped in Commonwealth-designated Covid-19 hotspots, requiring the Commonwealth to cover the cost of payments to individuals and the states to fund them to businesses.
Speaking after talks with state and area treasurers on Friday, Josh Frydenberg said states « make decisions about lockdowns » and were responsible for additional support once payment was no longer available.
“It is very clearly defined. It relates to where there is a Commonwealth hotspot, and now that that hotspot has been lifted here in Victoria, » he told reporters in Melbourne.
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« My opinion is that I would like everyone to be able to get back to work as soon as possible. »
Mr Frydenberg revealed that approximately 50,000 applications for the emergency payment had been made in Victoria since the announcement, say ongoing federal government support remained available through paid pandemic leave and jobseeker pay.
Acting Victorian Prime Minister James Merlino announced $8.36 million in additional business support on Wednesday, admitting the « hardships don’t end » with the easing of restrictions.
The treasurer said talks with Reserve Bank governor Philip Lowe showed a « very positive view » of Australia’s economic recovery, but avoiding further lockdowns was key to continuing that trend.
Mr Frydenberg would not be drawn into whether the Victorian government had made a mistake in extending the lockdown, but was « very concerned » about its impact on the state’s economy.
« It is clear that this lockdown is damaging confidence, affecting investment and ultimately costing jobs, » he said.
“A lot of people are still working from home and you can see that on the street. The sooner we can get people back to the CBD in Melbourne, like, like across the country, the better.”
Labor argued that the Victorian lockdown would have been avoided if the vaccine rollout in Australia had kept pace with expectations.
Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles praised the early intervention of the Victorian government that had prevented a longer outbreak.
« The way we can cope with these outbreaks is to deal with them hard and fast, » he told 2SM Radio on Friday.
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