Victorian premier's plan to repay 'COVID credit card'

·2-min read
Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS

Paying back the COVID-19 credit card will be a priority for the Victorian government in the upcoming state budget.

Premier Daniel Andrews maintains all of Labor's election commitments will be delivered when the budget is handed down next week.

But he says the government needs to address the state's growing debt, which is predicted to hit $166 billion by mid-2026.

The money borrowed during the COVID pandemic was not productive debt that made the economy bigger, Mr Andrews said.

"It was like a COVID credit card," he told reporters on Friday.

"We borrowed in an emergency to save lives, save jobs and get through a terrible, terrible event."

He said the government had a plan to repay the debt but wouldn't release details ahead of the budget.

"Unless we get the COVID credit card balance back down to zero, if something else confronts us, we won't have capacity to do what we did last time," Mr Andrews said.

The premier also refused to say whether job cuts to the public service were on the cards, with the public sector union expecting a 10 per cent cut to ongoing roles.

"Let's just wait and see what's in the budget on Tuesday," Mr Andrews said.

Commonwealth Games host councils have their fingers crossed for funding to support the 2026 event when it is held in Victoria.

Opposition Leader John Pesutto said councils hosting events needed funding in the budget.

"There's still a lot of uncertainty about what councils will have to fund and what the state government will fund," he told reporters in Bendigo.

Mr Pesutto was disappointed with a lack of Games funding in May's federal budget.

"One of the things that the state Labor government has to do is advocate strongly and I just hope that because it's one Labor government talking to another that it (hasn't) gone soft on Canberra," he said.

"Regional Victoria needs its fair share in this state budget."

Bendigo City's Commonwealth Games Director Andrew Cooney said the council had been working closely with the Games' partners ahead of the event.

"We're looking to see confirmation of the budget so we can get on with delivering venues," Mr Cooney told AAP.

"Time is tight, obviously, but we're just looking forward to having some finalised plans... to make sure we're ready to go for 2026."