Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has flagged payments for locals waiting on coronavirus test responses, while pleading with the public to stay home and seek financial support.
Andrews said his government was fast-tracking the $1,500 payments to those diagnosed with coronavirus, and those who were required to care or live with those with the disease.
These payments are open to Victorians who do not have access to paid sick leave, in a bid to stop infected people from choosing between a paycheck and public health.
Around 1,200 people have applied for the emergency payment, with Andrews today hinting at further measures targeting Victorians waiting for test results.
“[We are] having a close look at whether there might be additional support for that waiting period – once you’ve been tested and you’re waiting for the outcome of the test. I’ll have more to say about that too,” he said during a press conference on Wednesday.
“We certainly cannot have one in two people who are waiting for a test result simply going about their business as if they didn’t have symptoms, as if they weren’t waiting for a test result, as if this wasn’t a global pandemic.”
He urged eligible Victorians who need financial help to call 1800 675 398 to access the payments. Previously, Victorians were told to wait to be contacted.
“If your bank balance is driving you to make bad decisions, then there’s that $1,500 payment there. We will make sure that they are processed as fast as they can be so that people no longer have to make those sorts of choices,” he said.
The $1,500 payment scheme had previously been criticised for failing to deliver many of the payments to vulnerable Victorians.
‘This is a commentary on insecure work’
Andrews said the need for these payments highlights the challenges posed by insecure work patterns, and that the state and country will need to consider this in future economic debates.
“There is a large proportion of these people who are making these choices because, in their judgement, they’ll look at their bank balance, they’ll look at the fact that if they don’t work the shift, they won’t get paid for the shift, they don’t have sick leave,” Andrews said.
“This is a commentary on insecure work, this is a commentary on this as a feature of the Victorian economy and our national economy.”
However, he said that while it’s a “very important debate to have”, the debate can wait until another time.
“In the meantime, though, [we are] trying to hone in on the problem, understand the problem, and then put in place specific measures to deal with it.”
Victoria has 3,810 cases after recording an increase of 484 on Wednesday.