Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has come out swinging against Victoria’s roadmap plans, arguing that residents should be able to enjoy greater freedom of movement when 70 per cent of the state is double vaccinated.
However, though the southern state will ease lockdown restrictions after hitting the 70 per cent mark, Melbourne residents will face tougher rules than their Sydney counterparts come Victoria’s ‘freedom day’.
At 70 per cent, retail will still remain closed, and people are still not allowed to visit others’ homes. The curfew will lift but the travel bubble will remain in place, though it will be extended to 25 kilometres.
But in a press conference today, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg – who is the MP for the Melbourne electorate of Kooyong – criticised this particular measure.
“We have this ludicrous and unacceptable situation where somebody in Sydney can travel nearly a thousand kilometres to Victoria and go to the pub in Lorne, whereas someone in Melbourne can't even go and visit their family in the same place,” Frydenberg said on Saturday.
“Victorians are looking at what is happening in New South Wales and saying, ‘Why do those people get the freedoms at 70 and 80 per cent that we here in Victoria are not getting?’”
Melbourne has made global headlines for being the most locked-down city in the world, with Frydenberg urging for greater freedoms for jabbed residents who have “spent so much time in lockdown”.
“They have gone and got the jab in record numbers. It is now time that the Government gave back their freedoms and their lives.”
Bad blood between Frydenberg and Andrews continues
This isn’t the first time the Federal Treasurer and the Labor Premier have exchanged barbed words: the two had a public spat about the amount of Federal Government support that has gone to Victorians.
“I want to say to Mr Frydenberg: Victorians are getting sick and tired of every time the Commonwealth Government spends $1 in Victoria, it’s treated like it’s foreign aid. Like we should bow our head and be grateful,” Andrews said in late September.
“We’re part of this country, we pay our taxes, we pay more than our fair share of taxes … it is offensive.”
The following day, Frydenberg shot back with: “I'm not going to take the bait and give the Victorian government the distraction it wants,” Frydenberg said.
“Right now we are paying around twice what the state government is to Victorian households and businesses.
“The reality is we have provided more economic support to the Victorian people and Victorian businesses on a per capita basis than any other state.”
Victoria expected to hit 70% next week
Victoria is readying to lift lockdown restrictions despite continuing to record concerningly high daily COVID-19 cases. Saturday saw 1,993 new locally acquired cases, as well as seven COVID-related deaths.
Andrews is expected to announce the exact day that Melbourne will exit its sixth lockdown on Sunday, with the state expected to hit the 70 per cent milestone some time next week.
WATCH BELOW: Victoria to end lockdown amid case surge
NSW’s ‘freedom day’ came earlier this week, with residents now allowed to visit cafes, restaurants, bars, pubs, shops and hairdressers.
Newly installed NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet also wasted no time in his new role and made changes to the 70 per cent roadmap, including doubling the number of visitors allowed into homes.
He has now also brought forward the 80 per cent roadmap to the coming Monday, with 78.8 per cent of residents now double-vaccinated.