Treasurer lashes Victorian government for 'biggest public policy failure in living memory'

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg says businesses and Victorians under Stage 4 restrictions are being "kept in the dark".

Josh Frydenberg is expected to continue attack on Daniel Andrews.

Josh Frydenberg Source: AAP

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has lashed the Victorian government and Premier Daniel Andrews for their handling of the state's coronavirus lockdown and failing to outline a pathway out of tough restrictions.

Melbourne's Stage 4 restrictions are due to end in two weeks, but Mr Frydenberg is concerned that despite this deadline a further road map forward has not been provided.

He warned businesses and Victorians are being "kept in the dark" by Mr Andrews' response, saying the premier must provide more clarity.

"This has to be the biggest public policy failure by a state government in living memory," he told reporters on Monday.

"What we're seeing in Victoria is a lack of a road map out. I will call it out - the prime minister will call it out." 

He also shared his blunt assessment that the "litany of failures" that lead to the state's surge in cases could be described as a "slow motion car crash". 

"As the federal treasurer I am seeing the economic cost of what is transpiring in Victoria," he said. 

"What is the number of cases in Victoria that is acceptable to the Victorian government to start reopening the economy?"

Mr Andrews is preparing to outline an exit strategy for the state's tough lockdowns, which have become a major flashpoint with the federal government. He is expected to ease social and business restrictions on 6 September.

"It is too early today to settle that roadmap and to lock that in," Mr Andrews told reporters.

"Another week's data is critically important to make sure that the strategy continues to work and for us to have a better sense of how long it will take to drive these numbers down to very, very low numbers."

The Victorian premier also deflected questions about criticism from Mr Frydenberg about his response, saying he hasn't got time to argue with the federal treasurer.  

"I’m not here to argue with Josh Frydenberg," Mr Andrews said. 

"I haven't got time to have an argument with him or a debate or even a discussion. I'm very focused on getting the job done."

Figures being released on Wednesday will highlight the economic impact of the virus and confirm the nation is in recession.

Mr Frydenberg appears to be laying the groundwork to blame Victoria for a large slice of the economic collapse.

He has suggested up to 400,000 people could lose their job or see hours reduced to zero because of the lockdown conditions. 

Economists are expecting a contraction of six per cent, the biggest decline since the late 1950s.

Metropolitan Melbourne residents are subject to Stage 4 restrictions and must comply with a curfew between the hours of 8pm and 5am. During the curfew, people in Melbourne can only leave their house for work, and essential health, care or safety reasons.

Between 5am and 8pm, people in Melbourne can leave the home for exercise, to shop for necessary goods and services, for work, for health care, or to care for a sick or elderly relative. All Victorians must wear a face covering when they leave home, no matter where they live.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your state’s restrictions on gathering limits. 

If you are experiencing cold or flu symptoms, stay home and arrange a test by calling your doctor or contact the Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. 

News and information is available in 63 languages at https://sbs.com.au/coronavirus

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Published 31 August 2020 at 12:04pm, updated 31 August 2020 at 6:48pm
Source: AAP -SBS