The Victorian government will spend a further $245 million to develop a national infectious disease centre, after the federal government refused to chip in.
Last year, Premier Daniel Andrews announced $155 million for the Australian Institute for Infectious Disease, to be built next to the Doherty Institute in suburban Parkville.
At the time he said the University of Melbourne and its partners would invest $150 million into the facility, while the federal government would be asked to chip in $250 million.
The federal government’s latest budget, handed down earlier this month, did not allocate any funds to the project.
Medical Research Minister Jaala Pulford said the Commonwealth “wasn’t in a position” to provide the financial support for the project.
“They have a lot on their plate as any government does, this was not an immediate priority for them,” she told reporters on Wednesday.
“We would certainly welcome their future involvement but we do not want to have to wait until they are in a position for this to go ahead.
“This is really important and the risk of infectious diseases is greater than it was 50 or 100 years ago.”
The $245 million in extra funds will not be included in Thursday’s state budget either. Instead, it uses “contingency money” from the 2020/21 budget.
The University of Melbourne has also agreed to contribute a further $100 million to the project.
The institute will be tasked with leading the fight against future pandemics, with construction expected to begin this year and be completed by 2025.
It is set to deliver 350 jobs during construction, 850 ongoing jobs at the institute and 5000 jobs in the wider biomedical sector.
The facility will bring together experts from global biotechnology giant CSL, the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute for Medical Research, among others.
The new facility will also become the new home of the Burnet Institute, which is currently based at The Alfred Hospital.
Health Minister Martin Foley said the institute will strengthen Parkville’s standing as the “powerhouse” of Australia’s biomedical community.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the way to keep our community safe is to collaborate, to invest in the best minds and the best research and that’s exactly what we have here in Melbourne,” he said.
“It will make sure not only are we at the forefront of staying where we need to be in infectious diseases management and research but really important work on the future when it comes to vaccines … and keeping people safe.”
It comes as Victoria recorded its 82nd consecutive day without a locally acquired case of coronavirus.
Some 8363 people received a coronavirus vaccine dose in the 24 hours to Wednesday morning.
Mr Foley said a total of 816,551 doses have been administered in Victoria since the rollout began, including 64,708 second doses.
He encouraged anyone eligible to get the jab.