After yesterday’s testimony by Premier Daniel Andrews, the spin doctors would have know – there is no more room for Jenny Mikakos in the state cabinet. And this morning, Victoria’s Health Minister Jenny Mikakos has resigned from her portfolio amid growing pressure over her role in the state’s coronavirus hotel quarantine program.
Giving evidence before the commission of inquiry looking into the Hotel Quarantine causing the second wave in Victoria, Premier Daniel Andrews had clearly said his Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos was responsible for the program which employed private security guards.
To date, it is a mystery as to whose decision it was to employ them.
Ms Mikakos had denied any part in the decision to use private security, rather than police or the Australian Defence Force and in her statement (declaring her decision to resign from the ministry and the parliament) Ms Mikakos stated that she had been looking forward to know whose decision it was.
Ms Mikakos announced she was standing down on social media, declaring she was responsible for the hotel quarantine program.
— Jenny Mikakos MP #StayHomeSaveLives (@JennyMikakos) September 25, 2020
Ms Mikakos defended her handling of the pandemic, and said she disagreed with parts of Mr Andrews statement to the inquiry.
“But in light of the Premier’s statement to the board of inquiry and the fact that there are elements in it that I strongly disagree with, I believe that I cannot continue to serve in this Cabinet.”
“As I said to the board of inquiry, I take responsibility for my department, the buck stops with me”, Ms Mikakos said.
However, Ms Mikakos said that with the benefit of hindsight there were matters her department should have briefed her on.
“I am deeply sorry for the situation that Victorians find themselves in,” she said.
“In good conscience, I do not believe that my actions led to them”, Ms Mikakos added.
In her evidence Ms Mikakos said she did not know Public Health Commander Finn Romanes had written to Department of Health and Human Services secretary Kym Peake on April 9, warning of a “risk to the health and safety of detainees” due to governance issues.
The letter was backed by chief health officer Brett Sutton and his deputy Annaliese van Diemen.
According to media reports Ms Peake also failed to brief Ms Mikakos on two Safer Care Victoria reports, which identified problems with the hotel quarantine program.
Victoria’s second wave has resulted in more than 780 deaths and prompted weeks of strict lockdown measures for Melbourne.
After Daniel Andrews evidence before the board of inquiry, where he like all others before him could not recall who advised the use of private security guards, Michael O’Brien the leader of the Opposition in Victoria called for the resignation of the Premier and his seven ministers including the Health Minister Jenny Mikakos.
“Daniel Andrews’ testimony to the Hotel Quarantine Inquiry today proves Victorians can have no confidence in this arrogant, lying Premier. Andrews and his ‘gang of eight’ have no choice but to resign”, Mr O’Brien said.
“Daniel Andrews’ disastrous mismanagement of hotel quarantine has ripped the soul out of small businesses and communities”, Mr O’Brien added.
“The Andrews Labor Government spent tens of millions of taxpayer dollars botching its hotel quarantine program that caused our crippling second wave of COVID-19 – yet not one Minister, department official or the Premier himself can say who was responsible for managing it”, Peter Walsh, the leader of the Nationals in the state parliament said join Mr O’Brien.
“Daniel Andrews today proved he is unworthy of office. Andrews and his ‘gang of eight’ have no choice but to resign”, Mr Walsh added.
They have had their first scalp this morning. Victoria is without a Health minister today.