Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews defended his trade deal with China, saying it was in the state’s best interest to export products to larger markets.
The deal has long been controversial, with the federal government still skeptical of China’s motives.
“My focus is on getting as much product as possible from Victoria to the big markets,” he said.
“There is no market bigger than China. There will be differences.
“You need to separate these diplomatic issues where you can from our exchanges.
“It is in our interest to bring more products to China, Europe and our Asian countries.”
Home Secretary Peter Dutton has previously described the Belt and Road Agreement as a “Chinese propaganda initiative”.
“Victoria must explain why she is the only state in the country to have entered into this agreement,” he said.
Mr Andrews said today that the “status of these agreements” with sister cities rests with the Commonwealth and Parliament.
‘Now is the time to borrow and build’
The prime minister said the government had followed the advice of the Reserve Bank, “borrow now and build”.
“The governor of the Reserve Bank has made it very clear, now is the time to borrow – borrowing costs are always at their lowest,” he said.
“Ordinary hard-working Victorians are waking up today to see a budget huge in size and scale because this is the task we have.
“Create jobs, a sense of optimism, a sense of confidence, repair this damage. It is also people-centered.
“It’s a budget that puts people first and deals with the pain and damage that has been done.
“Not just so that we can fix this, but also to prepare ourselves to be more righteous and stronger for the future.”