“The numbers just don’t bear it out. When Victoria needed Australia [in 2020], they were getting three-quarters of a billion dollars of support from the Commonwealth every week.”
“This package, together with the NSW government, is delivering half a billion a week. And the Commonwealth component of that is a quarter of a billion.”
Workers in NSW will get an increase in their income support from $500 to $600 a week while business owners will be offered a cash-flow boost of up to $10,000. This will flow to thousands of companies forced to close during the lockdowns across Greater Sydney under a package funded equally by the federal and NSW governments.
Mr Frydenberg, the most senior Victorian in the government, said this new support “template” could be used for any state that needed it, including Victoria should it have another COVID-19 outbreak that required a longer lockdown.
“The Victorian government, unfortunately, is being petulant, childish, and playing politics here because the facts tell a very clear story,” he told ABC Radio National Breakfast.
Asked how the package would go down with employers and workers in his home state, Mr Frydenberg replied he hoped people would “look at the facts, not the politicking”.
“We offered the Victorian government a 50-50 split when it came to business and income support, they rejected it,” he said.
Earlier, shadow treasurer Jim Chalmers said Victorians appeared to have been “left in the lurch because of the political stripe” of their state’s Labor government.
“Victorians have got every right to be filthy at the petty politics which was being played by Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg,” he said.
Victoria’s Recovery Minister Martin Pakula accused the Commonwealth of providing “gold-plated support” for NSW while it ultimately punished Victorian businesses and workers during the state’s latest lockdown.
Mr Pakula said the federal government never gave any indication to Victoria that it would raise the $500 disaster payment and waive the $10,000 asset test if its lockdown in May needed to be extended.
“The fact that the treatment of the two states has been unequal I think is beyond question,” he said.
“We spent a year hearing about gold standard, and now it’s gone from gold standard to gold-plated support while Victorian businesses and workers had to stack on an absolute turn to get any support from the Commonwealth during the last lockdown.“
Mr Morrison wanted the federal and state government to split funding for all types of support, but national cabinet rejected that approach and instead agreed the Commonwealth would be responsible for income support while states and territories would shoulder the burden of financial assistance for businesses.
Mr Pakula said in the first week of Victoria’s circuit-breaker lockdown in May, state Treasurer Tim Pallas had numerous conversations with Mr Frydenberg, who, the state government argued, for too long resisted providing financial assistance to workers.
“Eventually the Commonwealth came through, which we’re grateful for, but it’s not remotely close to what’s being offered to New South Wales,” he said.
“We saw right throughout last year a federal government pile-on led by Treasurer Frydenberg, and what we’re seeing in regards to New South Wales is support and comfort.
“It’s great they’re being offered support and comfort, but I think that’s what should have happened here as well rather than the extreme politicisation, the finger-pointing and the blame that was going on.”