Victoria launches blistering attack over COVID-19 support

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The Victorian government has announced a $250million business support package to those hit hardest by the statewide snap lockdown.

a man wearing sunglasses: Acting Victoria Premier James Merlino addressing the media today

Acting Victoria Premier James Merlino addressing the media today

But Acting Premier James Merlino has also delivered a scathing attack on the Federal Government, saying his state has been denied assistance.

"This is a bigger and broader package than the one we delivered through the circuit breaker lockdown back in February and it is made up of a few elements," Mr. Merlino said.

Mr. Merlino said the state government sought assistance from the Commonwealth but was refused.

"Victorian workers need support and that is where we needed Canberra to come to the table, and I am very sorry to say that they have refused to do that," he said.

"We asked multiple times, multiple times, for the federal government to support workers during this period and the unrelenting answer has been, no.

"Victorian workers deserve more from the federal government and I am beyond disappointed that the answer from the Prime Minister and the Treasurer has been no."

Treasurer Tim Pallas backed the acting premier and said the commonwealth had forgotten Victorians in need.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Victoria Treasurer Tim Pallas on Sunday

Victoria Treasurer Tim Pallas on Sunday

"It would be really good if the self-styled party of the workers actually did some work for working people and provided them with the assistance that they need, indeed, that they require," he said.

"I am angry and I am disappointed.

"They like to pride themselves on being the party of the forgotten people ... well, the people they have to seem to have forgotten is Victorians and in particular Victorian workers."

How the support package is compiled

The $250.7 million Circuit Breaker Business Support Package will aim to help up to 90,000 Victorian businesses affected by the lockdown.

The package features three initiatives for small to medium-sized businesses and sole traders.

The $190.01 million second round of the Business Costs Assistance Program will offer grants of $2500 for eligible businesses, including restaurants and cafes, event suppliers, accommodation providers and non-essential retailers.

A $40.7 million new round of the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund will provide businesses holding an eligible liquor licence and food certificate with a $3500 grant per venue.

An allocation of $20 million will be also be dedicated to supporting operators in the events industry who have incurred losses as a result of the lockdown.

The entire package is being funded by the state's coffers.

"This is a contribution, a payment, that the government is proud to make because we are proud of the effort that Victorians are making during this very difficult time," Mr Pallas said.

The treasurer said he had spoken with his federal counterpart Josh Frydenberg several times throughout the week to no avail.

"The Commonwealth's view is that if these are short-term circuit breakers, then these states should pay for them," Mr. Pallas said.

"Well, we are paying. We are paying very substantially, and I don't think working people should be paying."


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