Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack has urged Melburnians in COVID-19 hotspots to stay at home as the city’s outbreak continues to grow.
Melbourne recorded 75 new cases on June 29, taking its tally to 367 over the past fortnight, with the majority locally acquired across 10 suburbs.
McCormack cautioned against using the outbreak to fuel interstate rivalries with debate on travel and border restrictions ramping up.
“We are going to be there for Victoria,” he told ABC radio on Tuesday.
“It’s not just state versus state, it’s not Melbourne versus Sydney or anyone else.”
He said people in hotspot suburbs needed to follow health advice in order to curb the spread of the disease.
“If they need to stay at home, well jolly well stay at home. It’s not difficult,” the Nationals leader said.
“Think of others, do the right thing and we’ll get through this.”
All of NSW’s seven and SA’s three new cases were people returning from overseas.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is speaking to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews about lockdowns in the worst-affected suburbs, but the state government will have the final say.
“We have seven states and territories at the moment in Australia, where there is either no or virtually no community transmission,” Morrison told reporters.
“What that means is resources that are available in other states can also be deployed to assist.”
Victorian health authorities, with the help of the Australian Defence Force, are conducting a testing blitz in hotspot suburbs.
The next few days loom as critical as further measures to contain the virus are considered.
“It will get worse before it gets better,” Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said.
About 70 more ADF members landed in Melbourne overnight and will be deployed to testing clinics.
Meanwhile, in Canberra, arts executives will front a parliamentary inquiry on Tuesday to call for more industry support.
The future of government support, including the boosted unemployment benefit and wage subsidies, is expected to be raised.
Morrison has warned against the dole becoming an incentive for people not to work.
“What we have to be worried about now is that we can’t allow the JobSeeker payment to become an impediment to people going out and doing work, getting extra shifts,” he said.
But welfare advocates, unions and Labor are concerned hundreds of thousands could be pushed into poverty if support disappears during the recession.
Matt Coughlan in Canberra