Treasurer Tim Pallas has criticized the federal government for giving “blatant favorable treatment to NSW” when it comes to supporting the construction industry.
Victorian treasurer Tim Pallas has criticized his federal counterparts for leaving Victoria’s construction industry at an all-time low.
Mr Pallas said the federal government has violated its “well established” principle of co-financing business support packages, despite funding NSW construction companies during their recent shutdown.
“This is brutal, mean behavior,” he said.
“They seized the first chance they had to run from their responsibilities.
“It’s up to a Josh Frydenberg and the Prime Minister to explain why construction companies in Victoria have been treated differently than those in NSW.”
More than 70,000 construction companies affected by the construction freeze will receive a one-off support payment.
As part of a new $196.6 million fund from the state government, one-time cash grants will be provided to eligible businesses — including sole proprietors — affected by the September 21-October 4 restriction period.
It includes companies in Melbourne, the city of Greater Geelong, Surf Coast Shire and Mitchell Shire.
Eligible sole proprietors who are off-duty will receive a one-time payment of $2,000, which would increase to $2,800 for companies with annual payrolls of up to $650,000, $5,600 for payrolls of $650,000 to $3 million, and $8,400 for companies with payrolls up to $10 million.
Treasurer Tim Pallas said the grants would have doubled if the Commonwealth government had not refused to contribute to the Victorian construction industry.
Pallas criticized the federal government for providing targeted aid to the construction industry in New South Wales when it was shut down earlier this year.
“It’s a blatantly favorable treatment of NSW,” he said.
“Now we are once again in a position where Victorian businesses have been abandoned by their federal government.
“If the Prime Minister wants us to stop calling him the Prime Minister of NSW, he must stop acting like that.”
Speaking of his federal counterpart, Josh Frydenberg, Mr Pallas said: “He’s from Victoria, but he’s definitely not for Victorians”.
“The federal government left people behind when they needed it most,” he added.
“This is rudeness, this is mean behavior and it hurts an industry that doesn’t deserve this.”
Data released this week shows that NSW has received $6.15 billion in Covid-19 disaster payments, compared to just 2.40 billion in Victoria.
It comes as Victoria reported a spike in cases, with 1,488 new local infections on Saturday.
The spike brings the total number of active cases in the state to 11,591.
Two more people with COVID-19 have died.
On Friday, 71,224 Victorians were found to be tested, while 36,878 vaccines were administered at state centers.
The daily count is Victoria’s highest for the entire pandemic.
Of the 71 new local cases discovered on Saturday in regional Victoria, 10 were found in the now-sealed Shepparton.
Six have been linked to four households, with some of the positives attending a Grand Final party with 17 people.
NEW DEAL FOR VICTORIA’S BUS NETWORK
Victoria’s bus network will transition to a zero-emission fleet, with the government awarding a new contract for a third of the metropolitan network.
Kinetic, which operates SkyBus and operates local bus routes through Australia and New Zealand, has received the $2.3 billion contract as of January 31, 2022.
It will remain in place until June 2031.
By mid-2025, 36 fully electric buses will be introduced on the network, five of which will be launched in June next year.
It is part of a push to jump-start the state government’s pledge that all new public transport buses must be zero-emissions by 2025.
More than half of the franchise fleet – 341 out of 537 buses – will be replaced by low or zero emissions during the franchise period.
The franchise, currently operated by Transdev, carries millions of passengers every year on 50 major bus routes.
The contrast to Kinetic will boost “operational performance” and deliver greater reliability with a strong focus on customer outcomes and increased cleaning.
Key figures at Transdev, including approximately 1,100 bus drivers, are offered a job at Kinetic.
Melbourne-based Kinetic started with one bus about 50 years ago. They bought SkyBus in 2014 and now operate city, regional, school and support bus services in Australia and New Zealand.
Public Transport Minister Ben Carroll said: “We are off to a flying start in our fight for a zero-emission bus fleet in Victoria to help the environment and build our engineering, design and manufacturing expertise in these emerging technologies.
Mr Carroll said buses were the “most resilient” public transport service to emerge from the pandemic.
Nearly 90 percent of Victorians live within 400 meters of a bus stop.
FORMER PREMIER’S WARNING ABOUT COVID RECOVERY
Victorian Prime Minister Ted Baillieu warned that the state’s post-pandemic economy will not recover anytime soon and the recovery could take between 10 and 15 years.
“I don’t think we’re going to have a backlash. We need a rebuild, with football terms,” Baillieu said at an online summit of state leaders.
Baillieu was one of four ex-prime ministers to address the VECCI summit on the state’s way out of the Covid pandemic.
Baillieu said the character and strengths of the state would eventually overcome the “economic catastrophe”.
Steve Bracks said he was optimistic about a quick economic comeback and that it would be a V-shaped turnaround.
And John Brumby said at the summit that the biggest challenge facing the state after the pandemic was meeting skills demands, especially in the health sector.
“First, 53 percent of all new jobs in Australia require a university degree and 10 percent require a degree. And that will be the engine room of economic growth.
“The second is that one in four new jobs will be in healthcare and related sectors.”
These jobs would meet the demands brought on by the aging population, Covid-related backlogs and NDIS growth, he said.
“I’m not sure any government in Australia is aware of this issue about the extraordinary demand and shortages that will arise in this space over the next two years if we don’t do something truly transformative.”
Outlining Victoria’s prospects, Mr Brumby recalled former US President Abraham Lincoln, saying that the best way to “predict the future is to create it”.
Jeff Kennett said the $170 billion debt burden was a major concern.
“We don’t have the capacity as a state to earn the revenue to pay that off within the next 20, 30 years.”
Mr. Kennett also identified population growth as an issue and also called for a state-run loan system to help small businesses fight back.
He again put forward an earlier idea of merging Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania as one administrative force to increase efficiency.
He also denounced the lack of common purpose across the country and urged Australia to increase its presence in Asia as a stepping stone to the world.
VECCI chief executive Paul Guerra said the summit was intended to bring together the state’s thought leaders to chart a path to recovery, preserving the state’s strengths and uncovering new growth opportunities.
“We all want a better Victoria,” he said.
QUICK TESTS ‘KEY PILLAR’ OF REOPENING
Melbourne Mayor Sally Capp is calling on all levels of government to work together to deliver rapid antigen testing to the events industry, calling the technology a “key pillar in Melbourne’s renaissance”.
Ms Capp said the country couldn’t waste another minute when it came to introducing the test kits.
“Australia is already late to the party,” she said. “We’ve been watching closely as these tests have been used overseas to facilitate COVIDSafe events and reopen larger businesses.”
The mayor said the kits – coupled with high vaccination rates and QR codes – would allow the city of Melbourne to hold its key events “with confidence”.
“The arrival of these tests aligns perfectly with the Spring Racing Carnival, Christmas and New Year’s Eve,” she said.
With the rollout of the technology, event attendees would have to wait approximately 15 minutes for results before safely entering the venues.
HEALTH FOR MENTAL HEALTH
Free pop-up clinics have now opened to help Victorians struggling with their mental health due to Covid lockdowns.
Last month, the Andrews government announced it would expand its support network to include 20 new clinics, eight of which are in operation.
It’s because the demand for mental health care has soared during the pandemic, putting additional strain on an already overstretched system.
During the rollout, three new Cohealth clinics will open in Melton, Kensington and Sunshine.
Other organizations will open their own additional pop-up centers in Ringwood, Ballarat, Frankston, Mildura and St Kilda.
“Just two weeks after we announced a mental health boost, nearly half of our pop-up centers are ready to open their doors to any Victorian in need of support during this challenging time,” said Minister for Mental Health, James Merlino.
“With the remaining pop-up clinics coming online in Melbourne and regional Victoria in the coming weeks, we’re not wasting a moment responding to increased demand and making sure people get the right care, close to home.”
Each clinic offers telecare and in-person appointments and offers some walk-in sessions where possible.
They are part of a $22 million commitment to accelerate specialist care for those in need of mental health support and reduce the burden on emergency departments as the number of Covid cases rises.
Originally published as Treasurer Tim Pallas criticizes prime minister for ‘mean-spirited’ traditional support blunt