Vic budget rests on COVID-19 containment

·2-min read

Victoria's budget rests on the assumption the state won't have another prolonged coronavirus lockdown.

The seventh budget by Treasurer Tim Pallas, unveiled on Thursday, forecasts any further outbreaks of COVID-19 in Australia will be "contained and only result in localised, short-term restrictions".

Following the lead of the federal government, the Victorian treasury anticipates international borders won't reopen until 2022.

It is six months later than treasury initially forecast and is blamed on the delay in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines globally.

International students are anticipated to start returning in "early 2022", while tourist and migrant numbers are expected to pick up in the middle of the year as "safe travel zones emerge".

Population growth is forecast to reach 1.7 per cent by 2023/24, below the average annual growth rate of 2.3 per cent over the five years before the pandemic struck.

"So far as the Victorian population we will see, reasonably quickly, a return to net migration inflows and continuing growth of the city," Mr Pallas told reporters, cautioning he did not know what the future will look like.

To offset some of the damage, the government will spend $55 million on a Visit Victoria marketing campaign to lure Australian tourists, and $42.9 million to support conventions and business events.

More than $100 million will be spent to rejuvenate Melbourne's CBD and another $100 million will go towards cultural events and extending outdoor dining.

About $7.4 million will provide for a new dining voucher scheme to support the city's hospitality industry.

The budget allocates $1.3 billion to continue the state's fight against COVID-19, as well as $328.9 million to vaccinate Victorians who fall under phase 1A and 1B of the rollout.

However, no funding has been allocated to the vaccine rollout beyond June this year.

"There continues to be consistent problems around clarity of supply of the vaccine, that essentially is an issue that gives us difficulty in being able to have great certainty about when this process will be complete," Mr Pallas said.

About $50 million will be spent on establishing local manufacturing of mRNA vaccines, such as Pfizer and Moderna.

The budget confirmed a total of $442 million has been spent on the state's hotel quarantine scheme up to March 2021.