Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews will have more non-Covid related questions to answer this coming week than any other time since the pandemic began.
And the man dubbed ‘Chairman Dan’ is unlikely to enjoy or effectively answer any of them.
Over the next month, the premier’s leadership and resilience will again be put to the flame.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has managed to hang onto his job despite overseeing the deaths of hundreds of elderly Victorians
On Friday, Victoria recorded its highest daily case tally of active Covid cases since the pandemic began, with 1838 infections and five deaths
The employment of private security guards at Victoria’s quarantine hotels (pictured) saw the virus leak into the community and kill hundreds.
This time it will have nothing to do with his performance handling the dreaded virus.
Starting Monday, the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission will kick off public hearings into ‘allegations that public money intended to fund community associations was misused for party‐political work or other improper purposes’.
The hearings are expected to go for at least a month and drag before it a series of characters the premier would have been comfortable to have remained firmly in the shadows.
The hearings will centre around concern grants were going to organisations which would then use the funds to recruit new members for the Labor party.
For those not with the lingo, branch stacking is basically when people are recruited into a branch of a political party to influence who is pre-selected as an election candidate.
It comes with the problem of certain factions of political parties boosting membership with a view that pre-selection votes ensure its preferred candidate gets the job.
It’s a dodgy practice within political parties as old as the hills.
Former Labor MP, now independent, Adem Somyurek is expected to play an intriguing role at the IBAC hearings.
Last year, Mr Somyurek accused Mr Andrews of branch stacking during a speech in State Parliament.
A day earlier he had been called out for the practice himself in a 60 Minutes expose.
That was a ‘hatchet job’, Mr Somyurek said of the report.
On Friday, the embattled politician fired a shot over the bow of reporter Nick McKenzie in anticipation of the IBAC hearings.
‘I remind Nick McKenzie that every article is worth $400,000 in defamation. Ibac is advertised to go for 30 days. If McKenzie writes one article per day that would be $400,000 @ 30 = $12 million. Keep it coming,’ he tweeted.
Former Labor MP, now independent, Adem Somyurek is expected to play an interesting role in the IBAC hearings
Adem Somyurek (right) and Premier Daniel Andrews (centre) were once close allies
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews arrives to a press conference this week without a mask
But it is speculation about Mr Andrews’ dealings with the firefighters union that has the premier’s haters circling for his scalp.
IBAC has been investigating the United Firefighters Union’s role in Victoria’s fire services reform since 2019.
While complex in its nature, the controversy revolves around how an unpopular and expensive deal with the union and its boss was struck.
In 2016, Mr Andrews threw his hat into the ring to make the deal happen.
By then the issue had been dragging on for years and had seen the entire Country Fire Authority board sacked by the premier.
Supposed leaks about what IBAC will look at over the next month saw the opposition this week call for Mr Andrews to stand down.
When asked on Wednesday if he would, the premier stood firm.
Mr Andrews knew he was on stable ground – more stable perhaps than any he has been on throughout the pandemic.
Under the IBAC Act, it can be an offence for an individual to confirm they are even being examined.
‘If you want to know what IBAC is doing and who they’re doing it with, then you need to speak to Ibac. I cannot provide you with any other answer, Mr Andrews told reporters.
‘I behave appropriately at all times and I’m focused on always doing what is the appropriate thing to do.’
This is a man who has weathered a tsunami of criticism, speculation and damning factual blunders over the past 19 months.
Victorian firefighters marched on the steps of parliament calling on Premier Daniel Andrews to deliver a Christmas wish in the form of a new workplace agreement in 2015. It was eventually granted
United Firefighters Union chief Peter Marshall negotiated a controversial deal with the Andrews Government
Former Victorian Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos resigned after Premier Daniel Andrews blamed her for his government’s disastrous hotel quarantine scheme
Premier Daniel Andrews took an oath to tell the truth at an inquiry into the state’s hotel quarantine disaster last year
On Friday, Victoria recorded its highest daily case tally of active Covid cases since the pandemic began, with 1838 infections and five deaths.
Last year, the state recorded 890 Covid-related deaths – most of those elderly citizens who died after the virus leaked out of the premier’s bungled hotel quarantine program.
An embarrassing inquiry over that scandal saw Mr Andrews, his staff and ministers all deny responsibility for those mistakes.
Ultimately the premier apologised to Victorians and his health minister took the brunt of the blame.
But ‘Teflon Dan’ soldiered on.
Even a fall down the stairs failed to stop the premier holding onto power.
On Thursday night text messages started to spread among Melburnians suggesting Mr Andrews was more than a little worried about what IBAC would find.
Government sources told Daily Mail Australia it was ‘wishful thinking’ to believe IBAC would end Mr Andrews’ reign at the top.
‘Anyone cheering IBAC as the tool to end him might be in for a rude shock. Covid is the killer,’ the source said.