— Finance

James Merlino slams Morrison government

Victoria’s Acting Premier James Merlino has taken a savage jab at the Morrison government, saying it would be “inferior” if the Commonwealth did not support businesses struggling in lockdown. On Wednesday, small business owners and casual workers were dealt another crushing blow when the Victorian government announced an extra seven days of lockdown for greater Melbourne.

Stubborn case numbers and the threat of the Indian variant of the virus “exploding” led health authorities to its latest decision after six new local infections in the past 24 hours. The federal government has so far rejected calls to provide additional financial support during the state’s fourth major lockdown in 12 months. On Wednesday, treasurer Josh Frydenberg said he would meet with his counterpart in Victoria, Tim Pallas, and consider the calls.

“I haven’t even yet heard or seen the request from Victoria,” Mr. Frydenberg told reporters.

He said he had “a constructive relationship” with Mr. Pallas, “despite his comments in recent days”.

The Victorian Treasurer said on Sunday he was “angry and disappointed” with Mr. Frydenberg’s and Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s response to the state’s latest crisis.

Australian Bureau of Statistics figures released on Wednesday morning showed the nation’s GDP was back to pre-Covid levels. Still, Mr. Frydenberg said the federal government had already provided Victoria the highest level of financial support on a per capita basis.

Extending lockdowns were “decisions the Victorian government makes.

We have already delivered around three times what the state has born into that state,” he said.

Our support for Victoria has been there.

Despite the national solid account numbers today, there is no reason for anyone to become complacent about our economic recovery. Earlier, Mr. Merlino gave a stern reply when asked what would happen if the commonwealth again refused to provide financial relief to small businesses and casual workers for at least the next seven days. That would be a feeble reflection on the federal government and their support for Victorian businesses and Victorian workers,” he told reporters.

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