Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has hit back against suggestions financial support for Victoria is being treated like “foreign aid”, blaming the state government for not including construction in their business support agreement.
Friction between the Victorian government and the Commonwealth was on display this week, with Premier Daniel Andrews again accusing his federal counterparts of preferential treatment for NSW when it comes to financial assistance for the building sector.
But Mr Frydenberg said on Friday he was “not going to take the bait” and give the Victorian government the “distraction” they were looking for.
He said Victoria chose not to include the construction industry in its initial agreement with the federal government for business support payments, and there was “no special deal” made with NSW.
“In New South Wales, they chose to put construction in their business support payments that we went 50-50 with,” he told Melbourne radio station 3AW.
“In Victoria, they took a decision not to put construction in [the plan we reached with them] – they included hospitality, they included gyms, they included hairdressers.
“The federal government is providing around twice what the state government is providing right now to Victorian households and businesses, and we’re doing that through the COVID disaster payment.”
When asked about Mr Frydenberg’s comments on Friday, Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley said the state was already funding half the business support package for construction, and it wanted the Commonwealth to fund the other half.
“All we want is the same deal – construction in Victoria is shut on public health grounds, construction in New South Wales was shut on public health grounds,” he said.