As the Victorian disaster unfolds, dashing economic forecasts, all the Prime Minister can do is write bigger cheques.

The lack of transparency from the Andrews government remains a concern.
In June, Daniel Andrews sacked two ministers and had a third, Adem Somyurek, expelled for branch stacking.
Andrews is like the wayward teenager who pranged the family car and now wants dad to help.
Yet, as far as we know, not even a middling public health official has been punted over the greatest peacetime catastrophe to befall the state since Federation.
While the yellerati on social media focus their rage on demanding that federal Parliament sit (rest easy, it will sit on August 24), there is deafening silence over the cancellation of the Victorian Parliament, the refusal of the state Health Minister to give answers, and the deferral for another two months of the inquiry into the quarantine breach.
Lack of contrition and empathy
If you are going to demand of your people extraordinary sacrifices as a consequence of a failure of government, then some contrition would go a long way in the cause of enlisting their support.
Something along the lines of: “We are sorry about what happened, mistakes were made, there will be consequences but for now we need you to help us to help you.”
Notwithstanding Thursday’s grilling of the Premier by the Victorian media and Andrews promising accountability, such sentiment has been notably muted during his daily press conferences.
The emphasis has been more about steeper fines and threats to go harder if people don’t do what they’re told.
It was no coincidence on late Monday afternoon that Scott Morrison began his press conference with sombre statements sympathising with the people of Victoria, including an acknowledgment that what Andrews had just announced would push people to breaking point.
It was felt federally that Andrews had been particularly cold when announcing business closures.
“He just put 250,000 people out of work but you wouldn’t know it,” said one federal government source.
While the immediate priority must be to fix Victoria, the wider fallout makes it less than clear whether the country will be able to reunite and once more commit to a COVID-safe economy.
Before Victoria went off the rails, the country was making remarkable progress towards meeting the May 8 national cabinet agreement to live with the virus.
That involved opening the domestic economy by late July and having the testing and tracing protocols in place, as well as the hospital beds, to deal with what would be inevitable outbreaks. Much as NSW is doing now.
Now, Queensland, which has an election in October, has shut its borders to NSW and the ACT just one Sydneysider tried to sneak into Queensland via Canberra in a move the state government itself has belled as overtly political given the manner in which it has promoted the decision.
The West Australian government has forced the Commonwealth to back away from trying to force it to open its borders to states such as South Australia, Queensland and the NT which pose no or little threat.
WA just tells its citizens the “eastern states” are a mess, when, in fact, most are fine. South Australia and Tasmania are also starting to retreat out of an abundance of caution.
State premiers play politics
All of this is making the Prime Minister look more like a frustrated bystander. Albeit, a bystander with a big chequebook. While the Premiers are exerting their powers to close businesses and shut borders, it is the feds who are largely footing the bill.
Andrews is like the wayward teenager who pranged the family car and now wants Dad to help. The others are taking decisions that have political upsides for them, in the knowledge the feds will be on the hook for the economic downsides.
These tensions in the Federation have been evident since the outset of the crisis. The states have primary responsibility for health, the Commonwealth for the economy. Now we are seeing those tensions more than ever. Morrison has told Victoria, and by extension the others, that they must help foot the bill for further assistance measures.
Only a few weeks ago, the Prime Minister was talking excitedly about the “next phase”. That was the period beyond September when the need for welfare would begin to recede and the policy focus would be on growing the economy again.
Suddenly, the mindset is one again of emergency assistance.
This week, Canberra has helped Victoria with pandemic leave payments and a $33 million childcare bailout.
At a staggering cost of $15 billion, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has had to redesign JobKeeper 2.0 to accommodate all those businesses that recovered in June but fell in a hole in the September quarter, due to Victoria.
When the new policy was announced just a few weeks ago, a business had to suffer a requisite turnover decline in both the June and September quarters to qualify. Now the June test will be removed because for many, it has become obsolete.
Economic forecasts last barely a week.
On the back of Victoria, Morrison released new estimates of the economic impact for just the September quarter and there was a $2 billion variation, such is the uncertainty.
Morrison expressed confidence that, at some stage, Victoria would come under control and the shared journey towards a COVID-19-safe economy would continue.
If not, it will be incumbent on the states to detail an alternative, longer-term strategy because eventually, economic pressures will play into the politics.
Short of finding a vaccine, there will long be coronavirus outbreaks somewhere and there will always be people lying to try to beat border restrictions.
Under the criteria Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk gave for her border closures this week clusters in NSW and one person trying to fly in from the ACT she will never open them again.
Unless she finds a way to eliminate lying, the virus, or both.