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Victoria to build national infectious diseases centre

The Victorian government will invest $155 million to establish an Australian Institute of Infectious Disease in Melbourne.Premier Daniel Andrews made the funding announcement – which will form part of this month’s state budget – on Friday morning.The total cost of the institute will be $550 million.The University of Melbourne and its partners will invest a…

The Victorian government will invest $155 million to establish an Australian Institute of Infectious Disease in Melbourne.

Premier Daniel Andrews made the funding announcement – which will form part of this month’s state budget – on Friday morning.

The total cost of the institute will be $550 million.

The University of Melbourne and its partners will invest a further $150 million in the project, while Mr Andrews said he would present a case to the federal government to try to secure a further $250 million in funding.

The Premier said the institute would create 350 direct jobs during construction but could support up to 5000 jobs once completed, including up to 850 jobs at the Institute.

Mr Andrews said it would be a national centre and the biggest of its kind in the Indo-Pacific region.

The Victorian government’s immediate allocation includes $5 million to complete a business case for the facility by the middle of 2021.

Construction would then start in 2022, with an aim to completed by 2025.

“This is exactly the right thing to do at this time,” Mr Andrews said.

“This has been a one-in-a-hundred-year event, but novel viruses and global pandemics is one part of infectious diseases. Who knows, there may be more pandemics of that nature in years to come.

“This is some of the most important work and arguably, it has never been more important than it is right now. There are many other infectious diseases that cost lives, suffering and hardship and the economic cost.

“We’ve only got through this pandemic by backing our scientists and researchers. We’ll continue to do that and create high-skilled jobs right here in Melbourne.”

The Premier said it would establish Victoria as a global leader in understanding infectious diseases and aim to accelerate research into the prevention of future pandemics and rapidly develop treatments.

The facility will be designed to deliver everything researchers need to detect, analyse, manage and treat infectious diseases.

The Australian Institute of Infectious Disease will be the new home of the Burnet Institute and be located next to the Doherty Institute on Elizabeth Street.

It will also bring together experts from the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute for Medical Research, the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, the University of Melbourne and Melbourne-headquartered global biotechnology company CSL.

Mr Andrews said the Institute was not a concept but something that needed to happen and the government’s money was “on the table”.

“We want the federal government to join us, that’s entirely a choice for them, but we’ll provide any and all information,” he said.

jack.paynter@news.com.au

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