Covid-19 Victoria: Treasurer blasts Scott Morrison over 'blatant' act

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The Victorian Treasurer has lashed out at the federal government over “unfair” and “mean spirited” treatment as the state's Covid crisis escalates.

Tim Pallas unleashed on Scott Morrison's government during the daily Covid briefing on Saturday after reporting 1488 cases of the highly-infectious Delta variant – the highest daily peak for the state since the pandemic began.

Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas addresses the media during a press conference in Melbourne, Friday, October 1, 2021.
Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas has slammed the federal government over Covid-19 financial assistance. Source: AAP

Construction cash splash announced 

Mr Pallas went on to blast the prime minister for failing to co-fund a new support package for Victoria's construction and building sector.

The Victorian government announced $196.6 million to provide one-off payments to more than 70,000 eligible businesses, including sole traders, to cover periods of restrictions throughout the current outbreak.

“But the Commonwealth explicitly refused to pay for the construction sector. And it is beyond reason or comprehension why this industry, which will struggle, of course, as a consequence of the challenges that they have had to cop over the last few weeks, are not getting the support that they would otherwise expect,” Mr Pallas told reporters.

“It is in comprehensive why this industry has been singled out for particular and might I say, unfair treatment by this government.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media during a press conference at the Lodge in Canberra, Friday, October 1, 2021. Source: AAP
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has come under fire for failing co-fund a new support package for Victoria's construction and building sector. Source: AAP

PM accused of giving NSW 'favourable treatment'

It follows revelations NSW received $6.15 billion in Covid disaster payments from the federal government, compared to just $2.4 billion for Victoria, reigniting tensions that Scott Morrison has given favourable treatment to NSW throughout the pandemic.

“And I do make the point that this is despite the fact that the Commonwealth funded a similar program to support construction businesses in NSW,” Mr Pallas said.

“It's blatant favourable treatment for NSW, not being returned to Victoria when we faced the exact same situation that NSW did.”

The treasurer went on to accuse the Liberal-National government of putting politics before common-sense.

“We will not be intimidated through a form of economic coercion to see our industries disadvantaged," Mr Pallas said.

"Nor will we be subject to economic coercion by the federal government if they think that our commitment to public health outcomes will be influenced by their churlishness and mean-spirited approach towards supporting industries that need help."

A construction worker is seen sitting on a bench along Bourke Street in Melbourne, Friday, July 23, 2021.
The Victorian government announced $196.6 million to provide one-off payments to more than 70,000 eligible businesses in the construction and building sector. Source: AAP

Tim Pallas's anger comes after 'secret' vaccine deal

It comes after Victorian premier Daniel Andrews slammed the federal government over “unfair” and “secret” vaccine allocations last month. 

Before Victoria's Covid crisis exploded, Mr Andrews told reporters he doesn’t “begrudge” Sydney receiving extra does due to the “difficult set of circumstances” in NSW.

But he did claim some 340,000 allocations were not made public by the federal government.

"I have been very clear the extra allocations that were given to them – known and announced and above board and clearly transparent – that was a good thing," Mr Andrews said at the time.

"We are not talking about those doses. We are talking about otherwise secret arrangements that are just not right.

"These allocations, which are totally unfair and were under the table need to stop and we need to get a make-good. We need to get those doses we didn't get fast-tracked to us."

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