Josh Frydenberg slams Victoria’s ‘callous indifference’ towards small business owners

The federal treasurer has come out swinging at Daniel Andrews over the cautious pace of easing of coronavirus restrictions in Victoria.

Josh Frydenberg is furious the Victorian premier has not gone further in reopening the state, given the low number of new infections.

He accused Mr Andrews of making it up as he goes and demonstrating a callous indifference towards small business owners.

“The bloody-mindedness is unforgivable,” Mr Frydenberg said on Monday.

“There’s been a callous indifference in Victoria from the government to the loss of jobs and to the plight of small business.”

Mr Frydenberg warned 1000 jobs would be lost each and every day the state remained in lockdown.

The premier is growing increasingly frustrated with federal ministers demanding a faster reopening, reminding them they are not medical experts and do not have all the information available.

Business groups have also criticised the “inexplicable and unacceptable” timeline for lifting restrictions in Victoria.

From Monday, Melburnians will be able to get a haircut, see an allied health professional, renovate their properties and wash their cars.

But retail and hospitality businesses must wait until 2 November to reopen.

“There is no sound reason to continue the restrictions on business, especially with case numbers clearly on a downward trajectory,” Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said.

Victoria recorded just two new coronavirus cases on Sunday after yet another day of single-digit infections.

Mr Andrews has indicated further restrictions could be lifted earlier than planned if case numbers remain low.

But Tim Piper from the Australian Industry Group said Victorians expect more decisive action from the premier.

“There is still no long-term coherent plan to rebuild a shattered Victorian economy,” he said.

There is also a growing political row over travel arrangements with New Zealand.

Victoria and West Australia are not part of the deal and both premiers have said they were blindsided when Kiwis arrived in their states.

The federal government argues New Zealanders are well within their rights to travel to other parts of the country after flying into Sydney or Darwin.

People in Australia must stay at least 1.5 metres away from others. Check your jurisdiction’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.

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Please check the relevant guidelines for your state or territory: NSW, VictoriaQueenslandWestern AustraliaSouth AustraliaNorthern TerritoryACTTasmania.

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