House debates

Tuesday, 27 October 2020


COVID-19: Victoria

2:23 pm

Photo of Josh FrydenbergJosh Frydenberg (Kooyong, Liberal Party, Treasurer) Share this | Hansard source

The honourable member is right: there is an inquiry. But unless that inquiry asks everybody who has questions to answer to provide evidence, we won't get the answers and the Victorian people will be left in the dark. The fact of the matter is our state—I'm from Victoria and I am for Victoria. The fact of the matter is the member for Wannon is from Victoria and he is for Victoria. The member from Flinders is from Victoria and he is for Victoria. And this Prime Minister has stood by Victorians every stop of the way. More than $200 million per day is going from this government to the people of Victoria. There is JobKeeper, JobSeeker, the cashflow boost—$750 payments have been going into the pockets of Victorians and Victorian businesses. That's been going to support them through this crisis.

My thanks today are to the people of Victoria, because we know this lockdown has not come without a cost: a 31 per cent increase in Medicare subsidised mental health visits in Victoria, a 77 per cent increase on people going to headspace in Victoria compared to those other states, and there is Lifeline and Kids Helpline. I got a text message from a friend of mine the other day who said that a friend of his had taken his own life because he had lost his job in Victoria. In the same message, he said that friends of friends had started to self-harm. These aren't unique cases. This is across the state. This is the price that has been paid during this lockdown.

I have spoken up as the Treasurer of Australia and as a proud Victorian, and the facts are that Victoria makes up 26 per cent of the national population but today 40 per cent of those effectively unemployed across our country. On every day of the lockdown, on average, 1,200 jobs have been lost. In the same period, for every day of that lockdown across the rest of the country, 2,000 jobs have been created.

An opposition member interjecting

'So what?' is the interjection—an interjection from someone from another state outside Victoria. I tell you what, the small businesses of Australia—their owners and their employees—don't say, 'so what?' They say that they have paid a very, very heavy price. The Leader of the Opposition said in his statement that the decision that was taken not to open up on Sunday—well, the businesses of Australia spoke very loudly about their disappointment, and we, as a government, spoke very loudly.

My thoughts today in supporting this position are with those Victorians who were kept in their homes 23 hours a day. My thoughts today are with those Victorians who weren't able to move more than five kilometres from their home. My thoughts today are with those Victorian who weren't allowed out at night because of a curfew that we didn't see in other parts of this country. My thoughts today are with those Victorians who've been fined $10,000 for opening their business and trying to put food on their table and keep their staff employed. My thoughts today are with the families of those people who have suffered with mental health concerns as a result of the lockdown.

I am so happy to join with all those in this place in celebrating the fact that the numbers have come down. But don't pretend there hasn't been a price. And the price has been immense, and the cost couldn't have been higher for more than six million Victorians. So today we give thanks for those numbers coming down. We give thanks to those Victorians who have paid the ultimate price and to their families. We say thanks to those health workers who have been working so hard, together with our Defence Force personnel who have been working with the Victorian government. We, on this side of the House, have stood with Victorians since the start of this crisis, we have stood with Victorians through this crisis and we will stand with Victorians to the end of this crisis.


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