On 13 July, Prime Minister Scott Morrison and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced further support to help businesses and individuals forced out of work by COVID-19 lockdowns in the state.
The move, while welcomed by some, was criticised by others, including Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who labelled the package a “double standard”, insinuating the same level of support was not offered in his state during its extended lockdown period.
“[Victoria is] sick and tired of begging for every scrap,” Premier Andrews said.
“It shouldn’t take a crisis in Sydney for the Prime Minister to take action, but we are seeing the same double standard time and time again. His job is not to be the Prime Minister of NSW.”
Appearing on mainstream media shortly thereafter, the Prime Minister defended the roll-out to NSW, saying he rejects the notion of favouring one state over another.
“During the Victorian lockdown, the Commonwealth government, without request, was providing three-quarters of a billion dollars a week, every week for months on end into Victoria, and in the most recent lockdown they had, which just thankfully only went for two weeks, for Victoria, they got exactly what New South Wales got for those two weeks. So, New South Wales is now going into week four of a lockdown, and that means the challenges are escalating,” Mr Morrison told Channel 9’s Today program.
“What I announced yesterday is exactly what every other state and territory would get in week four of a lockdown. Let’s hope there is no week four of lockdowns in the other states and territories. But I think people, frankly, want to see just governments working together.
“The Victorian government has been strongly supported by the Commonwealth, particularly last year during those terrible lockdowns. And I have no doubt that people in Melbourne and across Victoria just want to ensure that Sydney can get through this and that they don’t have to look at a lockdown that was so devastating that we saw in Victoria.”
Mr Morrison also used the opportunity to defend claims that the package itself is “tokenstic” and that it comes “too little too late”.
“What we’ve done is actually more than what we did a year ago with the cash flow boost, which is what this particular payment is based on. That’s the payment we’re doing together with the New South Wales government,” Mr Morrison said.
“But don’t forget that, on top of that, there’s a further support package that the New South Wales government is putting in to the tune of a further $3 billion. So we welcome that support from New South Wales government as well.
“We’ve welcomed the support from the Chambers and the Business Council and the Federation of Australian Industry and the other groups that have been very supportive of this package. It’s targeted to the support. It provides that cash flow boost, a thousand dollars for sole traders, $1,500 minimum for businesses with a turnover as low as $75,000 a year. And then that goes up to $10,000 payments and 40 per cent of your payroll.”