Aus govt rules out lockdown financial support for states


The Australian government has ruled out further financial support for states which have imposed new coronavirus lockdowns.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg had recently rebuffed pleas for help from the Victorian government, saying its snap seven-day lockdown in response to a Covid cluster in Melbourne did not warrant the revival of the JobKeeper payment scheme, reports Xinhua news agency.

“This is not the first lockdown post-JobKeeper and extra support from the federal government was not required in those cases,” he told Nine Entertainment newspapers on Monday, referencing similar shorter lockdowns in Western Australia and Queensland earlier this year.

“We continue to provide substantial support to the Victorian community but this is a short lockdown, not an extended lockdown, and the measures that we put in place in the budget will continue to support the Victorian economy during this challenging Covid period.”

The JobKeeper payment scheme, which was introduced to stimulate the economy and keep Australians employed amid nationwide lockdowns, ended in March.

According to Victoria Treasury estimates, the state’s seven-day lockdown will cost businesses about A$700 million ($539 million).

Victoria’s Acting Premier James Merlino on Sunday said he was “beyond disappointed” by the federal government’s decision against further aid, describing it as “disgraceful”.

As of Monday, there had been 30,098 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Australia, and the numbers of locally and overseas acquired cases in the last 24 hours were zero and nine respectively, with five extra infections under investigation, according to the Department of Health.

There were 102 active cases nationwide and the number of locally acquired cases in the last seven days was 31.

The death toll stood at 910.