Allison Langdon has taken a subtle swipe at Daniel Andrews over his ‘cringeworthy’ PR video about his back injury amid growing pressure for the Victorian Premier to sit down for an interview.
Mr Andrews fell over while getting ready for work at a rented holiday home on the Mornington Peninsula at 6.36am on March 9 in an accident that saw him vanish from the public eye for more than three months.
He explained in exhaustive detail exactly what happened that day in a video on social media over the weekend.
With his wife Catherine by his side, the father-of-two said his family was on holiday to spend some time together after a strenuous year filled with Covid-19 lockdowns and daily press conferences.
Langdon on Monday morning took aim at Mr Andrews’ video, branding it a conveniently timed election pitch.
‘We wish him all the very best. I thought the video was a bit of an election pitch to that?’ she told Nine presenter Alicia Loxley and Tanya Plibersek.
Langdon on Monday morning took aim at Mr Andrews’ video, branding it a conveniently timed election pitch. Pictured speaking with Tanya PLibersek and Alicia Loxley
With his wife Catherine by his side, the father-of-two said his family was on holiday to spend some time together after a strenuous year filled with Covid-19 lockdowns and daily press conferences
Loxley mocked the video as ‘cringeworthy’ and ‘stage managed’ but admitted it may have gotten the embattled premier back on side with Victorians.
‘I think it was really clever, because that makes it the story yesterday,’ she said.
‘The opposition down here in a silly way put that list of questions a couple of weeks ago, because there have been all these conspiracy theories about where he was staying and how this happened.
‘I think the state opposition really lost a lot of ground by doing that and lost a lot of respect from Victorians but by doing this.’
Loxley said ‘serious questions’ still need to be addressed and called on Mr Andrews to do a sit-down interview rather than a PR video driven by his media advisers.
But Plibersek hit back at suggestions the clip was a PR stunt to win the next election, saying Mr Andrews had a legitimate health scare.
‘I know Dan Andrews, I know him well, and I know to keep him off work for one day is really hard, to keep him away from work for three months, recovering from a super serious injury, would’ve been so difficult,’ she said.
‘He’s such a hard working, dedicated, conscientious person, and I really do question the priorities of some journalists.
‘He’s had this major health incident and [the media] is saying it “we have to get to the bottom of it”. It’s pretty obvious what happened. He fell over, he was badly inured and had to stay off work to recover.’
Absent Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured with his wife) has been absent from office for more than three months
The clip follows widespread criticism by conspiracy theorists about Mr Andrews’ fall since he was so rarely seen in the months after the accident.
He was only seen in three social media photos, including one posted by Catherine in early June which showed her cutting his hair with his face covered by a comb.
One outrageous theory included that he was beaten up by a union official or bashed by a businessman upset about Covid-19 lockdowns.
Some conspiracy theorists claimed a social media image showing Mr Andrews in his early recovery stage was photoshopped to show his head on some-one else’s body.
Those close to the premier said the theories were nonsense.
Mr Andrews on Sunday revealed how he was just one millimetre from being paralysed during his horror fall.
A senior trauma doctor who treated the premier in hospital told his wife Catherine that if an area of his spin just 1mm from where he was hurt was also damaged, he may never have walked again.
He fractured six ribs, including those closest to his spine, causing the lower parts of his lungs to collapse.
The premier arrived at the hospital in respiratory failure, after refusing a helicopter ride to The Alfred Hospital, having wanted to avoid any special treatment.
Instead, ambulance crews were forced to navigate roadworks on the Monash Freeway, meaning it took an hour to get to hospital, he told The Herald Sun.
‘It’s like it is in slow motion. I thought ‘I am in trouble here’, he said of the moments after he fell.
‘I couldn’t breathe in or out. I couldn’t scream, I couldn’t call out for Cath.’
Mr Andrews intended to travel straight from the holiday home in Sorrento to the office on the Monday morning, but it had been raining and the stairs were slippery.
‘As I put my foot onto the first step, I knew I was in trouble. I didn’t really connect with the step – I just slid straight off. I became airborne, almost,’ he said.
‘And then all I could hear was this almighty crunch. When I heard the crunch, that’s when I knew this was serious.’
The 48-year-old could barely breathe and was in too much pain to speak, but Catherine came running when she heard groaning in agony.
‘It was awful because you were going blue,’ she said to her husband in the video..
Pictured: Daniel Andrews, his wife Catherine and their two children during a video posted on Twitter on Sunday
‘We were looking at each other and I was thinking, ‘you’re going to die here in Sorrento’… and you were looking at me, and you felt the same.’
Terrified, Catherine called the ambulance and his police protection workers – who were parked a few houses down the street waiting for him to drive out on his way to work.
In the 24 hours after the accident, he was taken to a specialist trauma centre at the Alfred Hospital – which orthopaedic surgeons around Australia said signalled a serious injury.
‘I’ve neve experienced anything like this. I’ve never really been injured and I’ve never been admitted to hospital in all my life. I’ve never broken a bone,’ he said.
The video on Sunday was cut with montages of the Andrews family cooking together (pictured)
Daniel Andrews fractured his T7 vertebrae (in red), which is in the middle of the spine
He thanked the paramedics, nurses and doctors who took care of him during his recovery, and to the ‘tens of thousands’ of Australians who sent him ‘get well’ messages.
‘To every one of you who’ve sent a Facebook message, a card, a note, an email, a text message wishing us well, I’m deeply grateful,’ he said.
‘We’re deeply grateful,’ he added, gesturing to his wife.
He also said he’s feeling ‘fit, strong and healthy’ enough to return to office on Monday, before revealing he is on the ballot for the state election for 2022.
‘I’m running, and I’m running to win,’ he declared.
‘I am fitter and healthier and stronger and more committed. I have done the hard work to get well to get back — not to get well and to cut and run.’
Dan Andrews (pictured with daughter Grace, 18) in April as he recovers from a serious back injury
Mr Andrews (pictured, back) is undergoing his rehabilitation process at his Melbourne home
Mr Andrews was injured on March 9 and spent 10 days in hospital. Conspiracy theorists claimed this image was photoshopped to show his head on someone else’s body
Daniel Andrews issued this message to Victorians on social media earlier in June after weeks of silence
The Liberal-National Opposition had previously said Mr Andrews – who is the nation’s best-paid premier on $441,439 – owes it to taxpayers to reveal more details about the incident and prove there is no ‘cover up’ as he clocks up 92 days off sick on full pay.
MPs want to know who was in the house at the time, as well as the home’s address and the name of the owner.
They also want to know if police were called and if Mr Andrews has been interviewed by officers ‘either formally or informally’ over anything that happened that weekend.
‘If there is no cover up then there is no reason not to provide answers to these simple questions,’ said shadow treasurer Louise Staley.
‘Victorians need honesty and transparency from Daniel Andrews about the circumstances of his injury.
‘Everyone is entitled to privacy about their health, but these questions are not about the nature of his injuries, only how he got those injuries.’
Dan Andrews was pictured in his wife’s Instagram story on Saturday evening receiving a DIY lockdown haircut – but it didn’t show his face
Liberal MP James Newbury joined calls for more details, telling Daily Mail Australia: ‘No-one is questioning whether Daniel Andrews is sick – but as the elected leader of 6.7 million people, he owes Victorians a proper explanation as to what really happened to him.’
‘Victoria is in the middle of its fourth lockdown and people’s lives and livelihoods are on the line. We deserve more from Daniel Andrews than a couple of social media posts or a photo of his wife cutting his hair.’
Acting Premier James Merlino said the Opposition should be ‘ashamed’ for asking the questions.
‘We are dealing with a global pandemic for goodness’ sake,’ he said in a press conference on Tuesday.
‘I think it reflects on the Liberal Party, it reflects on the Leader of the Opposition – they should be ashamed of themselves, quite frankly.’