Australian Premier Dan Andrews Insists State’s Less Than ‘Perfect’ Pandemic Response a ‘Triumph’

By Henry Jom
Henry Jom
Henry Jom
December 6, 2021 Updated: December 6, 2021

Victorian Labor Premier Daniel Andrews has admitted his government made mistakes during the state’s pandemic response but insists his measures were a “triumph” that deserves congratulatory adulation.

“I wouldn’t want anyone to think that we regard our pandemic response across the board as having been perfect—of course it wasn’t,” Andrews told Stephen Donnelly, a former Labor campaigner and host of left-leaning podcast Socially Democrat.

“It’s a triumph in terms of what government in partnership with the community can do,” Andrews told Donnelly on Nov. 26.

“There are things that if you could go back and change them, you would, but we don’t have the benefit of doing that.”

However, it was unclear which policies Andrews regretted as Donnelly did not ask a follow up question following Andrews’ admission.

Andrews also accused political opponents, including federal ministers, for disloyalty to the state when he was criticised for implementing a spate of measures that saw the state endure the world’s longest lockdown.

“We’ve got some people who just can’t find it in themselves to say ‘well done’ and to speak out against extremism,” he said.

“The worst part about it is we’ve had people who are Victorians and would claim to understand Victoria, who’ve got leadership positions within various governments, who’ve not necessarily been faithful to their own state,” he said.

While unnamed by Andrews, Federal Treasurer and member for Kooyong in Victoria, Josh Frydenberg has been a vocal critic of the Andrews government’s mandates and previously said that Victorians “have had enough (of lockdowns),” were “at their wits ends,” and needed to live with the virus.

Additionally, federal ministers, such as Liberal Democrats’ David Limbrick and Independent MP Catherine Cumming, previously called for the premier to step down during the “freedom protests” in Melbourne.

“Where you stand on issues matters but who you stand with is just as important as we have seen people who have been very critical of us standing and sharing a stage, the other side of politics sharing a stage with these people,” Andrews said.

Andrews also commented on the “phenomenal” viewership to his press conferences, which numbered a million people during the height of the pandemic.

The premier’s comments follow recent protests that saw tens of thousands take to the streets of Melbourne’s CBD to rally against lockdown rules, vaccine mandates and more recently the controversial Pandemic Management Bill that passed on Dec. 2.

Under the revised pandemic bill, the premier will have the power to declare a pandemic indefinitely, and to extend it for a period of three months at a time. Police can also enter private premises without a warrant to enforce public health directives, and issue fines of AU$21,809 for individuals who breach public health rules.

Meanwhile, former Labor minister Adem Somyurek who had returned to Parliament as an independent to vote down the government’s pandemic bill, has accused Daniel Andrews of not having the checks and balances when making internal decisions.

“Then when you usurp the external decision-making processes as well … in the parliamentary system, and then you want unfettered power, it’s essentially a very dangerous situation to be in,” Somyurek told 3AW host Neil Mitchell on Dec. 2.

Henry Jom