Calls to expand virus disaster payments

Scott Morrison is facing demands from a government MP to expand coronavirus disaster payments to regional areas copping lingering lockdown fallout.

The prime minister has announced a new scheme to offer affected workers up to $500 when shutdowns in virus hotspots last longer than one week.

With restrictions easing in regional Victoria on Friday, only workers in Melbourne will be eligible as the state’s capital enters another seven days of lockdown.

Federal Victorian Liberal MP Russell Broadbent, who represents the regional seat of Monash, is calling on the government to expand the scheme.

Mr Broadbent believes people in regional Victoria will continue to lose income despite being out of lockdown, due to Melbourne still being under restrictions.

“Everybody gets wet when it rains, not just those in the eye of the storm,” he told ABC radio.

He believes his regional colleagues within government ranks will back widening the scope of payments.

Mr Morrison is chairing a national cabinet meeting of state and territory leaders on Friday, with slicing up the cost of relief on the agenda.

The prime minister favours a 50-50 federal-state split but is open to agreeing to divide it along the lines of business and household support instead.

Victoria is requesting more vaccine doses after the demand for jabs spiked on the back of the outbreak.

Acting Premier James Merlino has asked his federal counterparts to double AstraZeneca doses for GPs and an provide additional 100,000 Pfizer shots from mid-June.

“The demand right now is exceeding supply and is exceeding access,” he told reporters in Melbourne.

The Morrison government has reached an agreement with Victoria to build a 500-bed quarantine centre to add capacity in the state’s hotels.

It comes after persistent calls for the Commonwealth to take more responsibility for quarantine following 21 breaches from hotels during the pandemic.

National cabinet will also consider making vaccinations for residential aged care workers mandatory with health advisers reviewing advice.

While the expert medical panel in January found the step wasn’t necessary, the lack of clear data on staff vaccinations has reignited debate.

Less than 10 per cent have received both doses through the policy of administering staff leftovers when residents are vaccinated.

But it is unclear how many have sought jabs through other channels.

United Workers Union aged care director Carolyn Smith is opposed to making immunisation compulsory for staff.

“The call for mandatory vaccinations now is really just Scott Morrison and Greg Hunt trying to cover up the fact they have let down aged care workers and absolutely bungled the COVID vaccination program,” she told the ABC.

The prime minister favours the idea of states using public health orders, which Western Australia successfully used to boost the vaccination of quarantine workers.

Victoria on Friday recorded four new cases, taking the outbreak to 65 infections with the total figure for the outbreak revised down a day earlier after two false positives.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.