Lack of federal aid angers Vic's Pallas

·3-min read

Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas has unleashed on the federal government for not providing any financial help to the people of his state during another COVID-19 lockdown.

But Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt wasn't accepting the argument, pointing out there are a number of schemes already in place for people in need, such as the $1500 pandemic leave disaster payment.

Mr Pallas announced a $250 million support package for small and medium-sized businesses that are currently suffering as the result of a seven-day lockdown to battle a growing number of infections.

He said he and acting Premier James Merlino had spoken to both Prime Minister Scott Morrison and federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to chip in with financial support for workers, as the JobKeeper wage subsidy is no longer available, but drew a blank from both of them.

"I am angry and I am disappointed. All of the language about partnerships doesn't mean much if you don't back it up when the call comes down," Mr Pallas told reporters in Melbourne on Sunday.

"This idea that we are working hand in glove, when they have never put their hand in their pocket, is nothing short of a disgrace."

Mr Merlino - who reported a further five infections in the state, including an aged care worker - said it was disgraceful the federal government was picking and choosing when they support Victorians and Victorian businesses.

But Mr Hunt insisted the federal government's approach is "fair and appropriate".

He told reporters in Canberra after he and Health secretary Brendan Murphy received their second AstraZeneca jab, 4.2 million vaccinations had now been completed with just under 600,000 completed in the past week.

"I think that is an extremely important step that more people are being vaccinated at a faster rate than ever before," Mr Hunt said.

But comments by Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, who is sticking to the prime minister's line that it is "not a race" to get people vaccinated, didn't help the growing friction between Melbourne and Canberra.

"Look, I have said consistently, the way out of this pandemic is the successful rollout of the Commonwealth's vaccine program and the establishment of an alternative quarantine facility, not just in Victoria but elsewhere around the country," Mr Merlino said.

Mr McCormack, who is acting prime minister with Mr Morrison on an official trip to New Zealand, also does not believe there is hesitancy in getting the COVID-19 jab pointing to 120,000 people being vaccinated on Saturday and a similar number the day before.

"It is not a race, it has to be systematic," Mr McCormack told Sky News' Sunday Agenda program.

"It has to be rolled out in a way that Australians obviously need to know that they have to get the jab but we can't have everybody going and getting it at the same time."

Trade Minister Dan Tehan tried to downplay the use of the word "race' when interviewed on ABC's Insiders program.

"You don't describe a vaccine rollout as a race. The Melbourne Cup is a race. We are trying to get as many people vaccinated as quickly as we can," he said.

Federal Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese jumped on the comments, saying what is happening in Victoria is the result of the complacency of the Morrison government.

"They could start with a decent public information campaign," Mr Albanese told reporters in Sydney.

"Those ads that have been used, frankly, people would have slept through them."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting