The Federal Treasurer 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 is building between the Victorian government and the Commonwealth, with Premier Daniel Andrews once again accusing his federal counterparts of giving preferential treatment to NSW when it comes to financial assistance.
“Victorians are getting sick and tired of every time the Commonwealth government spends $1 in Victoria, it’s treated like it’s foreign aid, like we should bow our heads and be grateful,” Mr Andrews said on Thursday.
But Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said he was “not going to take the bait” and give the Victorian government the “distraction” they were looking for.
He said the NSW government had provided additional financial support on top of what the Commonwealth had provided, and that was “an option that’s available now to the Victorian government”.
“In NSW, they chose to put construction in their business support payments that we went 50-50 with,” Mr Frydenberg told 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.”
He said fully vaccinated tradespeople who didn’t attend this week’s anti-lockdown protests in the Melbourne CBD would now be wondering why they had been shut down, which Mr Frydenberg called a “genuine question only the state government can answer”.