MR PALLAS (Werribee—Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development, Minister for Industrial Relations, Minister for the Coordination of Treasury and Finance: COVID-19) (12:50:51):

I rise to advise the Parliament of the unprecedented health challenge that we are facing but also to recognise that that unprecedented health challenge is an unprecedented economic challenge as well. It is the same challenge governments right across the country and, might I say, right across the world must also face, and sadly we know it is going to get worse before it gets better and that the road to recovery will be longer than we first expected.

As the modelling undertaken by the Department of Treasury and Finance released yesterday shows, we may be looking at up to 270 000 Victorians losing their jobs over the coming months, with Victoria’s unemployment rate likely to peak as high as 11 per cent. We understand that these are not just numbers on an accountant’s spreadsheet; these are Victorian workers and their families. That is why as we face these difficult times the government is keeping our state safe and providing economic support to help keep Victorian businesses afloat and in a position to rebound on the other side.

Our $1.7 billion economic survival package, the largest of its kind in the state’s history and the largest of any state in the federation, is supporting the small and medium businesses that have been hardest hit by the virus. We are supporting small and medium-sized businesses through payroll tax refunds, through business support grants, through providing liquor licence fee refunds and waivers therein for more than 20 000 venues. We are supporting workers who have lost their jobs to find new opportunities through the $500 million Working for Victoria Fund. We are pausing rental increases for six months and providing $420 million in terms of land tax relief for landlords that do the right thing and provide rent relief for tenants experiencing financial hardship. These are difficult times, but as a government we are determined to do everything we can to save lives and save jobs.