During Victoria’s deadly second wave of coronavirus, Premier Daniel Andrews has blamed almost everyone except himself.
He has pointed the finger at families, workers, young people and now the federal government and the private sector.
At no stage has the Premier admitted that the virus escaped from hotel quarantine because he decided to use security firms instead of the ADF and the police to guard returned travellers.
During Victoria’s deadly second wave of coronavirus, Premier Daniel Andrews has blamed almost everyone except himself (pictured on Wednesday)
The Premier has pointed the finger at families, workers, young people and now the federal government and the private sector as cases have grown in his state
At no point has he conceded that going too hard on the first lockdown – which was harsher and longer than in other states – made the second lockdown less likely to succeed.
And not once has he admitted that allowing 10,000 protesters to pack the Melbourne CBD in the middle of a pandemic was a bad idea.
Instead, he has consistently tried to shift responsibility for the growing disaster away from his administration.
In his latest turn at playing the blame game, Mr Andrews has shamelessly tried to distance himself from the state’s aged care crisis as 77 homes suffer outbreaks with 804 active infections and 46 deaths.
‘These private facilities are not run by the Victorian government,’ he said on Tuesday.
That was the first time in the crisis that Mr Andrews used the word ‘private’ to describe care homes, clearly revealing his attempt to deflect blame.
The comment forced the federal government, which regulates the sector, to point out that outbreaks in care homes are ‘inevitable’ when there is widespread community transmission (because workers bring in the virus without realising).
But Mr Andrews’ choice of words came as no surprise because his unedifying habit of passing the buck has been on show ever since cases started to increase last month.
This graph shows how the horror second wave has hit Australia after the country was the envy of the world when it crushed the curve in April. Nearly all cases this month were recorded in Victoria
On 20 June, when 25 new daily cases were recorded, the Victorian Labor leader directly accused families of spreading the deadly disease. Pictured: A family in Melbourne last week
Daniel Andrews: The blame game
20 June: Blamed families
‘We have had many stories of families that have given it to each other’
7 July: Blamed people not following rules
‘So many people want to pretend this is over’
22 July: Blamed workers
‘They continued to go shopping, continued to go to work’
26 July: Blamed young people
‘You probably know someone who isn’t following the rules’
28 July: Blamed private care homes
‘These private facilities are not run by the Victorian government’
On 20 June, when 25 new daily cases were recorded, the Victorian Labor leader directly accused families of spreading the deadly disease.
He said: ‘We have had many stories of families that have given it to each other, and have then transmitted the virus to other families who in turn have passed it on to a third group.
‘It is pretty clear that behind closed doors when one family comes together in large numbers, they are not practising social distancing.’
Conveniently Mr Andrews left it to Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton to admit that some of the family clusters were linked to hotel quarantine security guards who had breached social distancing rules and interacted with infected guests.
Then, on Tuesday 7 July, when 164 cases were reported on the eve of the second lockdown, he slammed Victorians for ‘pretending’ the pandemic was over.
‘Each of us know someone who has not been following the rules as well as they should have,’ he said.
In an ABC interview the following day, he rubbed salt in the wounds by refusing to explain his government’s hotel quarantine blunder, instead saying: ‘I can’t change what’s gone on there.’
Next, on July 22, when 450 cases were reported, the Premier found a new group to blame: workers who were not self isolating.
He said that nine in 10 workers were not isolating before getting a test and half were not isolating while waiting for the result.
‘They continued to go shopping, continued to go to work, continued to do all sorts of things,’ he said.
Mr Andrews has also blamed workers for the outbreak after revealing that nine in 10 did not self-isolate before getting a test
A dead resident is taken away from the Epping Gardens aged care facility on Wednesday
And then, to make sure no group avoided his blame, Mr Andrews on 26 July accused young people of failing to take lockdown seriously.
He wrote in a Facebook post: ‘I’ve got a message I want to share with young Victorians. Chances are, you probably know someone who isn’t following the rules.’
The result of all this blame is that Victorians, who have mostly done nothing wrong, are growing tired with their premier whose Newspoll approval rating has dropped to 57 per cent from 75 per cent in April.
The public does not expect leaders to be perfect, but it does expect them to take responsibility when they make mistakes.
The sooner Mr Andrews does that, the sooner he will win back Victorians’ trust and overcome the crisis.
Daniel Andrews’ three big mistakes
1. The hotel quarantine disaster
The Andrews government decided to use security firms – instead of the ADF or police – to man hotel quarantine for returned Australians.
Health officials have confirmed that social distancing requirements were breached and the virus escaped.
There are allegations of under-trained staff, inadequate personal protective equipment, billing rorts by private security contractors and even claims that some hotel guards slept with guests.
Mr Andrews has ordered a $3million judicial inquiry but has refused to answer questions about the disaster.
2. The first lockdown was too harsh
Victoria suffered the harshest lockdown of all the states during the first wave of the virus.
Mr Andrews banned golf and fishing and refused to ease up restrictions until weeks after other states and territories.
Health professionals have admitted that going so hard the first time around has made people begrudge lockdown, meaning it is ‘incredibly hard’ to enforce again.
‘It’s much harder to bring people with you the second time,’ said Doherty Institute epidemiology director Professor Jodie McVernon.
3. He allowed protests in Melbourne
Instead of trying to suspend the Black Lives Matter protest on June 6, Mr Andrews meekly ‘suggested’ to Victorians that they should not go.
Six protesters tested positive after the rally but the true impact cannot be measured because, as federal health minister Greg Hunt pointed out, the rally may have discouraged thousands of other people from following social distancing rules in their day-to-day lives.
‘Once the protests occurred, there were some who saw what appeared to be an understandable view of a double standard, and changed their behaviours,’ Mr Hunt told Nine’s Today show.