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Doorstop - Press conference

20 October 2020

Subject: JobMaker Hiring Credit, Victoria’s ongoing lockdown

E&OE

MINISTER CASH: Good morning. Well, we’ve just been talking about the passage of the JobMaker Hiring Credit through the House of Representatives last night and that is, of course, so important for all of our young people out there to ensure that those who are currently in receipt of welfare, they can get off welfare as quickly as possible and into a job. We know about the serious scarring effects that unemployment can have, and in particular, recessions on our young people and that is why the Government has put in place the $4 billion JobMaker youth hiring credit to get our youth off welfare and into work as quickly as possible. And again, we’ve just heard from Alishia. A small business in Victoria and the devastating effect that the lockdown, that Daniel Andrews has imposed on small businesses there is having. You only need to look across the border at the state of New South Wales; relatively similar numbers and yet, you have a Premier there who has faith in her contact tracing system. In New South Wales, they are living in a predominantly COVID-safe economy, and yet they have an open border. It really is time now for Daniel Andrews to start answering why Victorians are unable to live in a COVID-safe economy? Why he clearly has no faith in his own contact tracing system? Why he's prepared to see a thousand, on average, people lose their jobs every day? And why his answer to someone like Alisha is that there's still a long way to go. Any questions?

JOURNALIST: Minister, can I ask you? Do you share the concerns of your Senate government colleague, James Paterson? The Chinese state media to be denied unrestricted access to this building as journalists, because they pose a risk for espionage activities?

MINISTER CASH: I have not been made aware of those comments. So, I'm not going to comment on something that I haven't yet heard.

JOURNALIST: Senator, would you share that view, though?

MINISTER CASH: Well, again, I haven't heard those comments. I’m not going to comment on it.

JOURNALIST: Senator, yesterday the Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, said that the Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, is just playing politics. What do you make of those comments?

MINISTER CASH: Again, look at the difference between Victoria and New South Wales. Our Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, is backing Victorians every step of the way. When you have, on average, 1000 jobs lost each and every day in Victoria. When you have the state of Victoria making up 40 per cent of the effective unemployment rate. When you have literally across the border a different state in similar circumstances, but living in a COVID-safe economy that is predominantly open and has faith in its contact tracing system, you really do need to start asking what is Distraction Dan doing? He's very good at throwing distractions. He's not very good, though, at answering questions about why he continues to keep Victorians in this lockdown.

JOURNALIST: What's the end game here, Minister? Because this war of words between the Federal Government and the State Government been going on for weeks and weeks and weeks now? Yesterday, Daniel Andrews, finally cracked under this pressure. What’s the end game here?

MINISTER CASH: We want to see Victorians opening up. We want to see Victorians being able to go back to work. We want to see Victorian businesses open. I mean, you just need to look at us here in the ACT. We are living in a COVID-safe economy here, when you have literally across the border very similar situations. But you have one state that clearly has faith in their contact tracing system, that is living in a COVID-safe and predominantly open economy, where people are able to get up in the morning, get ready, go to work, where businesses are able to make a livelihood. That is what we also want to see for Victorians and sooner rather than later.

JOURNALIST: Minister, does this argy bargy not just show that National Cabinet is fragmented and really isn't working? You're calling him Distraction Dan, yesterday the Treasurer's saying he's got bloody mindedness. I mean, it just seems like it's fragmenting, doesn't it?

MINISTER CASH: Not at all. I think the National Cabinet has worked very, very effectively to date and they will continue to work effectively. But, in relation to the situation in Victoria, the Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, he was there standing up for everyday Victorians. He was there standing up for those small businesses; who are desperate to open their doors, who understand that literally just across the border, you have other small businesses getting up, opening their doors every single day and employing people. He was standing up for those people,

JOURNALIST: Minister, we've seen this issue ongoing in Victoria for some time now. You have expressed concerns; your Treasurer colleague has expressed concerns. Are you trying to say now that you don't believe - you fundamentally believe that Daniel Andrews is not opening up the economy, because he doesn't have trust in his own tracing system?

MINISTER CASH: Well, you have to raise the question; why is New South Wales able to live in a COVID-safe and predominantly open economy, with a very, very good contact tracing system in place and literally, the state next door with similar figures is unable to. You really do need to ask that question, thank you.

ENDS