The federal government is expected to announce a support package to help Victorian businesses unable to trade normally, under restrictions imposed as part of a two-week ‘circuit breaker lockdown’ in greater Melbourne.
After the Victorian government’s initial calls for commonwealth support — including a JobKeeper-style program — were rejected, the Morrison government revealed it will announce some form of financial support “in due course”.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg this morning said he had spoken to the Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas about what support the federal government could provide now that the lockdown has been extended.
“I’ve had constructive discussions with my counterpart in Victoria […] and we’ll have more to say in due course,” Frydenberg said.
“We do recognise with the extension of the lockdown in Victoria, there is a need and there is obviously a lot of pain that families and businesses are going through,” he said.
The state-wide lockdown, which began last Thursday, was initially planned to end after one week. However, the Victorian government extended the lockdown in metropolitan Melbourne for a further seven days.
There are now 69 active cases in the state, and more than 350 exposure sites linked to the coronavirus outbreak.
The federal government will likely establish a national package to assist people in areas affected by future snap lockdowns.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said any support provided to Victoria or other states would be done on a “nationally consistent basis”.
“It would be temporary, it would be targeted, it would be through existing systems” Frydenberg said.
The Victorian government has announced a $460 million business support package, offering businesses directly affected by the restrictions grants of up to $7000.
Businesses in regional Victoria and metropolitan Melbourne will soon be able to apply for two grants, including the Business Costs Assistance Program and the Licenced Hospitality Venue Fund grants.
Businesses affected by the two-week lockdown can apply for $5000 or $7000 grants, while businesses reopening from midnight tonight can apply for grants of $2500 or $3500.
Frydenberg said the Victorian government should make “a significant contribution” to any support paid out in response to the lockdown.
“Victorians have been subject to 140 days of lockdowns whereas the average across the other states is just six days,” he said.
“There are mechanisms for shared responsibilities here.”