Fresh vaccine supplies can't arrive soon enough as COVID-19 outbreaks in Sydney and Melbourne continue to grow and the NSW economy groans under the weight of $2 billion in closure losses per week.
Victorian authorities are hoping to avoid NSW's fate with a snap, five-day lockdown.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant were repeatedly questioned on Saturday about their handling of the lockdown, rejecting suggestions they should have gone hard sooner.
The state reported 111 new community virus cases on Saturday with at least 29 active in the community at some point during their infectious period.
As a result, stay-at-home orders were tightened in three Sydney council areas. Retail was curtailed and construction paused.
In Melbourne, what began with a single case only days ago has grown, with 19 new cases on Saturday and confirmed exposure sites swelling by more than two dozen overnight into Saturday.
But Victorian authorities say their approach is being vindicated by the spiralling situation in NSW.
Although 18 of the new cases in Victoria were not in insolation for the entirety of their infectious period, on average each only spent 1.7 days in the community before their infection was picked up.
"That figure is a vindication of the going hard and going early strategy that the public health team has put to the government," Victoria's Health Minister Martin Foley said.
As Australians remain in the dark over the rate of vaccinations needed for the country to reopen, some 12 million residents are under COVID-19 lockdown in all. The rest are living with some form of travel restriction.
Amid the gloom, Nationals cabinet member Bridget McKenzie moved on Saturday to reassure that everyone Australia-wide subjected to lockdown beyond seven days would be eligible to access financial support.
Up to $600 will be available for individuals who have lost more than 20 hours a week or up to $375 a week for a reduction of between eight and 20 hours.
"We want to stand with communities and businesses through the tough times," Senator McKenzie said.
"That's why we've been making this support available, as we will throughout this pandemic, until we get to the other side."
She said claims of a lack of consistency in payments were "absolutely not true" and they were extended to "Australians no matter which state and territory you live in".
Businesses with turnover between $75,000 and $50 million are also eligible for support up to $10,000 if located in a Commonwealth-declared hot spot.
However all the Opposition wanted to talk about on Saturday was vaccinations.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese said the blame for the nation's predicament lay squarely with the prime minister.
"What people need is more certainty and more clarity of message from the government, with regard to the vaccines, about eligibility, and what we need to do is to fix supply," he told reporters in Canberra.
"The fact is that until we fix the rollout of the vaccine and have national quarantine facilities then there'll continue to be these constraints. That's why this is Scott Morrison's lockdown."
The vaccination rate has risen to 13 per cent of Australians, with two million doses administered so far in July.
Victoria's Deputy Premier James Merlino struck a blunter note.
"The 800-pound gorilla in the room that we have failed to mention today is the fact that we're in this position because our vaccination program has not delivered what we were told it was going to deliver," he said.
"We would not be in this position if our vaccination program had been up to what we were told was going to be the case.
"We are 38th out of 38th in the OECD. Those countries that we measure ourself against - we are the cellar dwellers."