An incensed federal treasurer has yet again unleashed a scathing attack on Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews after he failed to offer Melbourne businesses a lifeline in his latest easing of restrictions.
Josh Frydenberg has been left infuriated over the decision to delay any reopening of hospitality and other businesses by two weeks despite daily coronavirus cases falling dramatically.
"The bloody-mindedness is unforgivable," Mr Frydenberg told reporters on Monday.
"There's been a callous indifference in Victoria from the government to the loss of jobs and to the plight of small business."
Mr Frydenberg once again pointed towards NSW’s ability to reopen with low levels of community transmission, telling the Today show the Andrews’ government needs to act now.
“Why isn't it today? Why isn't Victoria following the core set by NSW who have set the gold standard with respect to contact testing and tracing, and with respect to getting about allowing people to go back to work.,” he said.
“The numbers tell a very tragic story of what's happened in Victoria.”
Mr Frydenberg said it was “unacceptable” that more than 1000 Victorians lose their jobs daily in the state considering the current level of known infection.
Andrews hits back over criticism
In response to his comments, an angered Mr Andrews said Mr Frydenberg’s remarks were “not helpful” and slammed the treasurer for his ongoing rhetoric.
“It's all about the politics with this bloke, isn't it? That's all he does. That all he does, he is not a leader, he is just a liberal back,” he told reporters.
“I just don't think that is fair and I think Victorians are sick of it.
“Josh Frydenberg can make all the comments he wants, that's fine, but I will be calling them out from no-one because it is not helpful, it does not keep anyone safe and it doesn't get the numbers down.”
‘Heavy cost’: Prime minister’s joint statement
Mr Frydenberg released a joint statement with Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Health Minister Greg Hunt on Sunday evening following Mr Andrews’ announcement, calling for a re-evaluation of the next review date in November.
“We understand and sympathise with the frustration and concern expressed by businesses about the ongoing cost and impact on their jobs and livelihoods of this second wave,” they said.
“Everyday Victoria remains under restrictions to get the second wave in Victoria under control comes at a heavy cost.”
Infectious disease specialist Professor Sharon Lewin from the Doherty Institute told ABC 24 she believes a staggered approach “makes sense” as opposed to “pulling all the levers” at once due to not categorically knowing which restrictions have been the most effective.
She also revealed she understands the contact tracing system in Victoria, which has faced criticism over its capabilities in previous months, is now on a par with NSW’s team.
‘Don’t play politics with the virus’
Labor leader Anthony Albanese criticised the federal government over their response to Victoria’s route out of lockdown, urging the Liberal party not to play politics with the virus.
“Victoria has done the right thing and they deserve support and they deserve better than to have mixed messages which are inconsistent depending upon the political nature of state governments,” he told reporters on Monday.
Mr Frydenberg refuted suggestions the federal government’s vocal stance on Mr Andrews’ response was hindering the exit from lockdown.
“It’s about supporting Victorians, it’s Victorian businesses and Victorian workers who need that support. It’s not about Daniel Andrews,” he said.
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