Australian gov't rules out lockdown financial support for states

2021-05-31 10:35:37Xinhua Editor : Wang Yifan ECNS App Download
Special: Battle Against Novel Coronavirus

The Australian government has ruled out further financial support for states that are thrust into coronavirus lockdowns.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg recently rebuffed pleas for help from the Victorian government, saying its snap seven-day lockdown in response to a cluster of COVID-19 cases in Melbourne did not warrant the revival of the JobKeeper payment scheme.

"This is not the first lockdown post-JobKeeper and extra support from the federal government was not required in those cases," he told Nine Entertainment newspapers, referencing similar shorter lockdowns in Western Australia and Queensland earlier in 2021.

"We continue to provide substantial support to the Victorian community but this is a short lockdown, not an extended lockdown, and the measures that we put in place in the budget will continue to support the Victorian economy during this challenging COVID period."

The JobKeeper payment scheme - which was introduced to stimulate the economy and keep Australians employed amid nationwide lockdowns - ended in March.

According to Victorian Treasury estimates, the state's seven-day lockdown will cost businesses about 700 million Australian dollars (539.9 million U.S. dollars).

Victoria's Acting Premier James Merlino on Sunday said he was "beyond disappointed" by the federal government's decision against further aid, describing it as "disgraceful."

As of Sunday afternoon, there had been 30,098 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Australia, and the numbers of locally and overseas acquired cases in the last 24 hours were zero and nine respectively, with five extra cases under investigation, according to the latest figures updated on Sunday evening from the Department of Health.

There were 102 active cases nationwide and the number of locally acquired cases in the last seven days was 31.

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