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Australia NSW lockdown costing $700 million a week, Treasurer says

00:19  14 july  2021
00:19  14 july  2021 Source:   9news.com.au

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Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Wednesday, July 7, 2021. Frydenberg says Australia will keep its national interests ahead of economic interests in its troubled relationship with China after a White House official predicted long-term Sino-Australian tensions. (Lukas Coch/AAP Image via AP) © ASSOCIATED PRESS Australian Treasurer Josh Frydenberg speaks to the media during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Wednesday, July 7, 2021. Frydenberg says Australia will keep its national interests ahead of economic interests in its troubled relationship with China after a White House official predicted long-term Sino-Australian tensions. (Lukas Coch/AAP Image via AP)

The New South Wales lockdown is costing $700 million a week, according to Treasury data cited by Josh Frydenberg, who has refused to speculate on how badly it will hurt the nation's future growth.

The Treasurer revealed the figure on Tuesday night while explaining the federal government's increase to financial support for workers and businesses hit by lockdowns and pouring fuel on the fire of a spat with Victoria.

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The Treasurer said the economic impact of greater Sydney's lockdown, which at least one expert expects to last another month, would be "significant".

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"You get border closures. You get supply chain disruptions. You get investment decisions that are delayed and when you get a state or parts of a state that are in lockdown, you get workers who can't turn up at the office or turn up to the normal vocation," he told the ABC's 7.30.

"This will have a significant impact on the economy and Treasury expect that the New South Wales lockdown is costing about $700 million a week."

It wasn't clear whether that figure included the $500-million-a-week cost of the Commonwealth support package.

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The federal budget was built on the assumption there would be localised COVID-19 outbreaks but they would be "effectively contained".

Mr Frydenberg admitted the NSW restrictions had already exceeded those predictions but said the country would have to "wait and see" what the effect would be on economic growth and the job market.

The government is providing between $1500 and $10,000 a week for sub-$50 million businesses whose turnover drops by 30 per cent or more and increasing disaster payments for workers who've lost hours.


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The announcement sparked a furious response from the Victorian government, angry at having been made to "beg" for assistance during its latest outbreak just a few weeks ago.

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"Everyone in Australia believes that people in Sydney and NSW deserve every possible support as they battle a second wave and a long lockdown," a government spokesperson said in the statement to 9News.

"But Victorians are rightly sick and tired of having to beg for every scrap of support from the federal government.

"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 for NSW."

Speaking on A Current Affair, Mr Frydenberg said the two states' lockdowns were "chalk and cheese" and that the government had provided "extensive support" to both.

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"Tragically more than 800 people have lost their lives in Victoria more than 90 per cent of the deaths that occurred across the country were in Victoria," he said.

"And they had a massive quarantine failure last year which led to the lengthy lockdown and then they had an inquiry to determine who was responsible and who took the decision around those failures and nobody was, and nobody did. 

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"And so I was critical about that process and about those outcomes."

He told 7.30 people were sick of Daniel Andrews' "whingeing and his politicking of the crisis."

NSW health authorities identified 89 cases on Tuesday, 21 of whom had been infectious while in the community, and one COVID-19 patient died.

Essential workers from Fairfield, in Sydney's south-west, will now be tested every three days, with a weekly test for anyone moving between greater Sydney and regional NSW for work. The change comes after a painter infected with coronavirus travelled almost 200km from Sydney to a building site in Goulburn.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said she hoped to announce whether the lockdown on Greater Sydney would be extended by Wednesday or Thursday "at the latest" and warned daily numbers would "keep bouncing around".

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