Victoria’s budget rests on the assumption the state won’t have another prolonged coronavirus lockdown.
The seventh budget by Treasurer Tim Pallas, unveiled on Thursday, forecasts any further outbreaks of COVID-19 in Australia will be “contained and only result in localised, short-term restrictions”.
Following the lead of the federal government, the Victorian treasury anticipates international borders won’t reopen until 2022, with the student, tourist and migrant numbers to pick up in the middle of the year as travel bubbles are created with other countries.
It is six months later than treasury initially forecast and is blamed on the delay in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines globally.
To offset some of the damage, the government will spend $55 million on a Visit Victoria marketing campaign to lure the rest of Australia and $42.9 million to support conventions and business events in the state.
More than $100 million will be spent to rejuvenate Melbourne’s CBD and another $100 million will go towards cultural events and extending outdoor dining.
About $7.4 million will provide for a new dining voucher scheme to support the city’s hospitality industry.
The budget allocates $1.3 billion to continue the state’s fight against COVID-19, as well as $328.9 million to vaccinate Victorians who fall under phase 1A and 1B of the rollout.
However, no funding has been allocated to the vaccine rollout beyond June this year.
“There continues to be consistent problems around clarity of supply of the vaccine, that essentially is an issue that gives us difficulty in being able to have great certainty about when this process will be complete,” Mr Pallas told reporters.
About $50 million will be spent on establishing local manufacturing of mRNA vaccines, such as Pfizer and Moderna.
But the treasurer has warned the pandemic “isn’t over” for all Victorians.
“The truth is that just as some of us had a tougher pandemic than others, some of us are having a tougher recovery,” he told parliament.