Victoria voices concern over Morrison’s COVID support ‘double standard’

By Melissa Coade

Thursday July 15, 2021

Scott Morrison
(AAP Image/Bianca De Marchi)

A spokesperson for the Victorian Labor government has expressed the view that Scott Morrison’s new disaster-support measures demonstrate political favouritism for the NSW Liberal government given Melbourne had to ‘beg for every scrap of support’ from the commonwealth.

In response to Tuesday’s announcement that the commonwealth had decided to expand its support package to workers in NSW affected by the state’s extended lockdown measures, a Victorian government spokesperson has come out swinging at the prime minister’s double standard.

“Everyone in Australia believes people in Sydney and NSW deserve every possible support as they battle a second wave and a long lockdown,” a spokesperson for the Victorian premier’s office said in a statement on Tuesday.

“But Victorians are rightly sick and tired of having to beg for every scrap of support from the federal government. It shouldn’t take a crisis in Sydney for the prime minister to take action but we are seeing the same double standard time and time again. His job is not to be the prime minister for NSW.”

During Tuesday afternoon’s press conference, the prime minister insisted that Victoria had received the same support in the first two weeks of its ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown in May 2021.

“In the case of the lockdown that most recently occurred in Victoria, […] we have followed those same arrangements here in NSW, that were put in place for Victoria,” the PM said. 

“Thankfully, that lockdown only endured for two weeks but clearly here in New South Wales the situation has taken a very different turn. 

“The NSW outbreak has proved to be more severe, more dangerous and it’s in the national interest that we now put in place an upgraded set of arrangements,” Morrison said yesterday.

The commonwealth’s multi-billion-dollar package for Greater Sydney will cost more than $500 million each week, and additional contributions from the NSW state government will mean all workers across the state will be eligible for the same payments. 

From 15 July eligible workers from the first seven local government areas that went into lockdown, in Bayside, City of Sydney, Canada Bay, Inner West, Randwick, Waverley and Woollahra will be able to claim their first payment. Money will be received the day after an application is made to claim the payment, which can be done online via www.my.gov.au – and using a Centrelink customer reference number which can be set up via the Services Australia portal.

According to The Guardian, a spokesperson from the prime minister’s office said the federal government had offered to shoulder all costs with Victoria during negotiations about the kind of support package that would be available to Victorian citizens. 

The spokesperson added that Victoria refused this arrangement and instead asked for the commonwealth to deal with income support while the Victorian government would support businesses.

The NSW government has worked constructively with the commonwealth to support their households and businesses while the Victorian government’s politicised approach has unfortunately been to issue decrees by media instead of picking up the phone to find solutions as a partnership,” the spokesperson said.

Victoria’s minister for industry support and recovery, Martin Pakula, told reporters that the way NSW and Victoria were being treated was ‘unequal’.

“We’ve spent a year hearing about gold standard and now it’s gone from gold standard to gold-plated support,” Pakula said.

“What we’ve seen in regards to NSW is support and comfort … that’s what should’ve happened here as well, rather than the extreme politicisation, the finger-pointing and the blaming that was going on from the federal government.”

On Wednesday Victoria added 12 new venues to its list of exposure sites after three removalists, two of whom were infectious with the COVID-19, transmitted the virus into the state from NSW. They visited a Caltex service station at Kalkallo on July 8 and a Hungry Jacks outlet in the same pit stop precinct. 

Then, later that evening, another 20 exposure sites were added to Victoria’s list including several stores at the Highpoint shopping centre. The Victorian government also announced stricter mask-wearing rules while in public and in work offices, effective Thursday 15 July.

Seven new COVID-19 cases were recorded in Victoria, some that were linked to the removalists, with one of the positive cases reported to have attended the AFL match between Carlton and Geelong at the weekend. 

The other positive cases were linked to a family in Hume who returned to Victoria from NSW.

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