維州政府要求聯邦政府撥款, 支持因7天維州七天封閉而受到影響的工人(由於維州封閉延長, 已經不止7天封閉), 財長Josh Frydenberg 斷然拒絕, 表明其他各州在短暫封閉時, 聯邦政府都沒有支援的先例。我不能認同這一說法。
第一, 維州受新冠病毒影響至深, 感染人數、死亡人數及整體經濟所遭受的打擊, 遠遠比其他州份為高, 因此維州絕對有理由得到比其他州更多的支援。以其他州份在短期封閉時都沒有支援來作拒絕的理由, 其實是極其牽強的事, 是沒有考慮到各自情況都不相同。
第二, 維州封閉隔離時間遠比其他州份為高, 企業經營所受影響是全澳洲之冠。想像一下飲食、零售、及服務行業等小企業, 過去一年能正常經營的時間, 比起其它州份的同類經營者, 少了接近1/3 時間, 收入 也相應大幅減少。為甚麼這些困難, 要由維州的中、小企業來付上代價? 聯邦政府去年設立Jobkeeper的目的, 就是要確保全澳洲的企業不會因為面對這困難而決定停業及裁員。現在, 明明知道維州中、小企業已經受了比其他人更大的打擊, 卻不伸出援手, 明顯是聯邦政府推搪失責。
第三, 取消Jobkeeper時, 有一個假設, 就是接種疫苗會極速進行, 大流行所帶來經濟壓力會漸漸減退。不過, 事與願違, 因著各種因素, 聯邦政府的疫苗接種計劃遠未達標, 而因此維州再次有因感染爆發而需要再次封閉的情況。可以說, 這一次封閉與聯邦政府施政失誤有關, 因此支援維州是聯邦政府道義上的一責任, 不能推卻。
第四, 維州是澳洲經濟的重要基地, 要是維州中、小企業對經營失去信心, 選擇結束經營或是裁員, 將會是對澳洲經濟復甦的致命打擊。聯邦政府在這重要關口, 不能功虧一簣, 把一年多來維護澳洲經濟基礎的努力, 付諸流水。協助維州中、小企業渡過難關, 並不只是維州居民或政府得到益處, 而是整個澳洲經濟能有盡快復原機會的必要元素。想像一下, 維州要是出現大規模企業倒閉及大量失業, 將會為聯邦政府帶來更沉重的財政負擔, 拖慢了澳洲經濟的復甦。
我相信莫里森總理在這時候, 要展現出領袖才能, 提出具體支援維州的方案。不然, 在明年下一次聯邦大選, 維州選民將會以手上選票, 告訴聯盟黨政府, 「你錯了」。
The federal government has to support Victorian workers
The victorian government requested the federal government to grant support to our workers suffering from the 7-day lockdown(as the lockdown is extended, it is more than 7 days). Treasurer Josh Frydenberg just said ‘NO’ because other states didn’t get that alike. I disagree.
First, Victoria by far is the most Covid-impacted state in terms of infection case, casualty and economic loss. That we deserve more support. Just saying others didn’t need that on their snap lockdown could not be an excuse in this distinctive circumstance.
Second, Victoria has undergone the longest period of lockdown. Our small businesses in the food catering, retail and service industries suffered vast income loss as they have lost 1/3 of their trading time compared to those in other states. Why do they need to pay up for the loss? The federal government set up the Jobkeeper scheme to ensure Australian businesses can survive the pandemic. It is very irresponsible for the federal government to stay away from helping out Victorian small and medium businesses in their utmost needs.
Third, Jobkeeper was halted then on the understanding that speedy vaccination could be rolled out to combat the virus. But there has been an unexpected delay of the program hence Victoria came to another lockdown from the pandemic. The federal government has a moral responsibility to cover Victoria as a victim of the government’s mishap in vaccine rollout.
Fourth, Victoria is the economic stronghold of Australia. If many businesses here lost their faith and choose to wind down then it would be a strong blow to the nation’s recovery. The federal government must hold tight on its hard effort over the past year in upholding the nation’s economy. Offering assistance to small/medium businesses here would not benefit local residents/government but indeed conducive to the whole country’s recovery from the pandemic. If extensive closing down and unemployment happen in Victoria, the federal government and the nation are going to lose out.
I think PM Morrison should demonstrate his leadership by offering a helping hand to Victoria. Otherwise, Victorians will use their voting card in next year’s federal election to tell “You were wrong”
Raymond Chow, Publisher