Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has clapped back viciously after being accused of abandoning his fellow Victorians “in their hour of need”.
Victoria was plunged into a seven-day lockdown on Friday in a bid to suppress a growing COVID-19 outbreak, months after the federal government’s JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme ended.
Federal Labor has joined calls from the Victorian government for increased financial support for the state during the lockdown.
The party’s treasury spokesman Jim Chalmers said the situation would have been avoided were it not for Australia’s sluggish rollout, accusing the government of “refusing to support” the hardest-hit workers and businesses.
“What kind of Victorian abandons Victorians in their hour of need?” Mr Chalmers asked in Question Time.
But Treasurer Josh Frydenberg hit back by teasing Mr Chalmers’ leadership ambitions.
“I know (his) maths aren’t too good. He has been doing the numbers for some time, and he still can’t even get to two,” he said.
The Treasurer insisted Victoria had enjoyed the most support.
“The people of Victoria have received on a per capita basis more from the Morrison government over the course of Covid than any other state or territory,” he said.
The May budget assumed snap lockdowns would occur across Australia until the end of the year, and Mr Frydenberg said Victoria was “not the only” state struck by the virus since JobKeeper ended.
“His own state in Queensland, in Brisbane, saw stay-at-home orders in late March, early April,” Mr Frydenberg said.
“This is a seven-day lockdown … We anticipated at the time of the budget that there would be outbreaks, and indeed that there would be short lockdowns.
“That is why we provided an unprecedented amount of support in this budget and in previous budgets.”
Mr Frydenberg said 150,000 people coming out of unemployment since JobKeeper ceased was evidence the scheme had succeeded, but the answer caused outcry on the opposition benches.
“You’re talking in past tense, there’s a lockdown now!” Labor frontbencher Catherine King interjected.
Senate estimates on Tuesday heard 21 aged care facilities had yet to receive a single dose of the vaccine, with Labor targeting the government over its aim to have all aged care residents fully immunised by Easter.
Health Minister Greg Hunt insisted the Commonwealth was “proceeding” with its rollout but claimed “consent by individual residents or their families is important”.