Victoria goes it alone with disease centre

The Victorian government will spend a further $245 million to develop a national infectious disease centre in the state, after the federal government refused to chip in.

Last year, Premier Daniel Andrews announced $155 million for the Australian Institute for Infectious Disease, to be built next to the Doherty Institute in Parkville. 

At the time he said the University of Melbourne and its partners would invest $150 million into the facility, while the federal government would be asked to chip in $250 million. 

The federal government’s latest budget, handed down earlier this month, did not allocate any funds to the project. 

The $245 million in funds will not be included in Thursday’s state budget either. Instead, it uses “contingency money” from the 2020/21 budget. 

The University of Melbourne has also agreed to contribute a further $100 million to the project 

The institute will be tasked with leading the fight against future pandemics, with construction expected to begin this year and completed by 2025.

It is set to deliver 350 jobs during construction, 850 ongoing jobs at the institute and 5000 jobs in the wider biomedical sector.

The facility will bring together experts from global biotechnology giant CSL, the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute for Medical Research, among others.

The new facility will also become the new home of the Burnet Institute, which is currently based at The Alfred Hospital.

“This facility will enable us to protect Victoria and the country against future pandemics – that’s why we’re delivering the funding needed to get it off the ground,” Medical Research Minister Jaala Pulford said in a statement. 

“We’re delivering the world-class facilities Victoria’s medical researchers need in order to do what they do best, as well as creating hundreds of jobs and delivering a boost to the economy.”

It comes as Victoria recorded its 82nd consecutive day without a locally acquired case of coronavirus. 

Some 8363 people received a coronavirus vaccine dose in the 24 hours to Wednesday morning.

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