Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews is returning to work after spending more than three months in recovery following a fall at a Mornington Peninsula holiday rental.
The premier held a press conference at 10:30 a.m. on June 28 to update Victorians on the Metro Tunnel project, one of his government’s key infrastructure projects that have since blown out by nearly $3 billion, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
In a video posted on June 27, Andrews detailed how he fell when he was getting ready for work on March 9 and then taken to hospital where he learned of his injury—an acute compression fracture of the T7 vertebra as well as several broken ribs.
“As I put my foot on to the first step. I knew I was in trouble. I didn’t really connect with the step; it just slid straight off. I became airborne almost,” Andrews said in a video, adding that all he could hear was an “almighty crunch.”
“When I heard the crunch, I knew. I thought this is serious; we’re in trouble here.”
The 48-year-old premier was then taken to the Peninsula Private Hospital by ambulance before he was transferred to the Alfred Trauma Centre.
In an interview with the Herald Sun, Andrews revealed he requested a transfer by road ambulance rather than a helicopter to avoid the appearance of special treatment.
“By the time he got here he was in respiratory failure. It was more than just a simple injury,” The Alfred’s head of trauma Professor Mark Fitzgerald told the publication.
Andrews was placed on breathing machines for two days to provide oxygen, adding that he avoided permanent, life-changing spinal cord damage by “1mm.”
The premier and his wife Catherine also mentioned the “vile” unfounded rumours circulating online since Andrews’ fall, including that the incident occurred at the home of businessman Lindsay Fox.
No credible evidence has been presented to support the claim, which has been denied.
Andrews thanked his healthcare team for his recovery, including his personal protective detail, paramedics, doctors, nurses and physiotherapists.
He also thanked his family and Victorians for their well wishes and confirmed his plans to run at the 2022 election, stating that he has “unfinished business.”
“Family is important, but so too is delivering for every family, working hard for every single Victorian family. That’s the oath I swore. That’s the job I’ve got,” Andrews said.
Deputy Premier James Merlino has been acting premier during Andrews’ absence, taking the state through a fourth lockdown that cost the Victorian economy approximately $1.3 billion.
Opposition leader Michael O’Brien has questioned the premier’s return to work date given state parliament’s six-week winter break, including the start of school holidays.
“It would have been better for Victorians and better for democracy if the premier had been here this week to answer questions about our fourth lockdown and why Victoria alone has had four lockdowns,” O’Brien told reporters on June 24.
AAP contributed to this report.