Scott Morrison has denied tensions with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews will undermine the pair’s first meeting since the state’s second wave outbreak.
The federal government has clashed with Mr Andrews this year over his strict lockdown measures, demanding the Victorian government expedite its reopening plan.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg accused the Premier of “a callous indifference by the Victorian government to the loss of jobs in the state” over extended lockdowns.
Mr Andrews responded by describing Mr Frydenberg as “not a leader, just a Liberal”.
But ahead of his first in-person meeting with Mr Andrews since the clash, the Prime Minister insisted the pair had “maintained a very good working relationship all the way through”.
“We get on just fine. I’m looking forward to catching up with him this afternoon,” the PM told 3AW radio.
“Of course, there have been a lot of difficult issues. From time to time, there have been some disagreements. I think people understand that.
“We’re both leaders, him of Victoria, me of the country, and it’s our job to work together. We’ve never lost sight of that.”
Although the lockdown had “significant costs associated with people’s livelihoods, we’ve come out the other side”.
“The only real issue was towards the end, about what time you start to move open again”, Mr Morrison said.
Premier Andrews claims the relationship “has always been about getting things done and hasn’t changed”.
“We’ve got a good, strong partnership. Are we are we are we best mates? I don’t know about that, but we work very well together and that’s what the people in Victoria need”, he said.
The Prime Minister is in Melbourne to announce an $800 million plan to build the southern hemisphere’s largest vaccine manufacturing plant.
The facility will be built by Seqirus, the vaccine arm of biotech giant CSL, as part of a $1 billion deal with the federal government. It will produce flu vaccines to be used at home and exported overseas.
The agreement will also ensure supply of medical products that would otherwise need to be sourced from overseas until 2036.
The Prime Minister argues the facility will boost Australia’s economy in the short-term, and its medical capabilities in the long-term.
“There could be another pandemic, so to have this capability at an upgraded level is very important. This is for the future, but is also creating economic opportunities right now. (It adds) security around our supply chains in a critical medical area”, he said.