The Victorian Government has released a scathing statement just hours after Scott Morrison unveiled a multi-billion dollar federal support package for businesses hit by Sydney’s coronavirus outbreak.
The Prime Minister and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian fronted media on Tuesday to announce JobKeeper-style payments that go above and beyond the arrangements during Victoria’s most recent lockdown.
“Clearly, here in NSW, the situation has taken a very different turn,” Morrison said, “We think this gives people the encouragement to see it through.”
He said the support is in the national interest and will be offered to any other state or territory that experiences an extended lockdown.
In a statement on Tuesday evening, a Victorian Government spokesperson said that while all Australians believe residents in New South Wales “deserve every possible support” at this time, it was the same “double standard”.
“Victorians are rightly sick and tired of having to beg for every scrap of support from the Federal Government,” the statement read.
“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.”
The Victorian Government claims it had to “shame” Canberra into “doing their job and providing income support for Victorian workers when we battled the Delta strain earlier this year”.
“Their position at the time was a disgrace.
“If they had bothered to think about this at the time and work with Victoria, they’d already have had a practical framework in place when NSW went into lockdown and more people would have got the support they need earlier.”
‘Pick up the phone’
Soon after, the Federal Government issued its response, disputing claims of favouritism and accusing the Victorian Government of taking a “politicised approach”.
“Victoria received the same support for its two week ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown as NSW has for its first two weeks of lockdown,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
“The conditions for payments and the levels of payments were exactly the same.”
The Federal Government said only as the pandemic evolved, and the situation in NSW worsened, so too did the Commonwealth’s support.
“If Victoria were to go into another extended lockdown, it would received the same support as is being offered to NSW,” a spokesperson said.
“During the most recent Victorian lockdown, the Commonwealth offered to share all costs with Victoria. Victoria declined, and asked for the Commonwealth to handle income support while they would support businesses.
“Victoria received $4,220 per capita support through JobKeeper compared to $3,684 per capita for NSW.
“The NSW Government has worked constructively with the Commonwealth to support their households and businesses while the Victoria Government’s politicised approach has unfortunately been to issue decrees by media instead of picking up the phone to find solutions as a partnership.”
Rescue package details
Under the newly-announced package, from week four of a lockdown in a declared hotspot, the disaster payment will increase to $600 if a person has lost 20 or more hours of work a week, or $375 for between eight and less than 20 hours of work a week foregone.
A direct payment to businesses will go to those with an annual turnover between $75,000 and $50 million who can demonstrate a 30 per cent decline in turnover.
They will receive between $1500 and $10,000 per week based on the level of their payroll.
They must also keep their staff levels the same as they were on Tuesday, July 13.
For sole traders, the payment will be set at $1000 per week.
Payments will be made available across NSW, with the costs shared 50/50 between the NSW and federal governments.
The NSW government will separately offer rent relief for commercial and residential tenants and payroll tax deferrals for businesses.
Economists have estimated the cost of the lockdown at $1 billion a week, even with many businesses still open.
NSW reported 89 new COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, with cases nearing 800 since mid-June.
– with AAP