News, Culture & Society

Victorians are demanding to know what has happened to their injured leader

After months of lockdown last year, Victorians were fed-up with the very sight of Premier Daniel Andrews’ face on their television screens. 

Three months after an injury sidelined him, they are asking ‘where the bloody hell is he?’.

The Premier suffered five broken ribs and a fractured T7 vertebrae after falling on ‘wet and slippery’ stairs at a holiday home on the Mornington Peninsula, south of Melbourne, on March 9.

Daniel Andrews in a tweet on April 18. It was the last time anyone saw him until this week

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews (right) and his wife Catherine Andrews. They had been staying in Sorrento when the Premier took a spill

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews (right) and his wife Catherine Andrews. They had been staying in Sorrento when the Premier took a spill 

Victoria had only just come out of its third lockdown in February, which all but ruined the Australian Open and reignited calls for the Premier to step down. 

Media experts have told Daily Mail Australia it was more than likely Mr Andrews had embarked on an extended break in a tactical play to rebuild his image to Victorians, who had him earmarked as a ‘control freak’. 

‘The problem is they let him sit on the sidelines too long, and now it’s come back to bite them,’ a source said. 

Word of Mr Andrews’ injury had quickly spread throughout Melbourne’s media, but the intel was light on to say the least. 

The Premier’s office was bombarded with inquiries, which fueled speculation something massive had transpired. 

It took the Premier’s media team a good six hours to go public with the fall. 

Mr Andrews was later transferred to the intensive care unit at The Alfred hospital. 

Suddenly, a man Victorians had seen on their screens for 120 days straight during the second lockdown, was gone.

Photographers who even tried to get close to the Premier were chased-off by his massive security force.  

The rumour mill went into overdrive. 

Why had Mr Andrews been on the Mornington Peninsula and with whom had he been with? 

The name of trucking magnate Lindsay Fox was instantly linked to the fall. 

Just a week before the accident, Mr Andrews had been forced to defend his relationship with the billionaire amid accusations he had been given preferential treatment over a proposal to build a quarantine facility at Avalon Airport. 

The Premier has a close personal relationship with Lindsay Fox’s son, Andrew Fox, who is responsible for Linfox’s airport and property arms. 

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews addresses the media during a press conference at an Ambulance Victoria Station just days before his fall

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews addresses the media during a press conference at an Ambulance Victoria Station just days before his fall

Lindsay Fox had been embroiled in a series of scandalous claims linked to the Premier since the fall

Lindsay Fox had been embroiled in a series of scandalous claims linked to the Premier since the fall 

Mr Fox was originally thought to have been at his cliff-top mansion on the peninsula about the same time as the fall, which fed into the hands of the Premier’s many detractors.

Messaging apps lit up with stories that the Premier had taken the tumble at Mr Fox’s house after a spat with a guest – a claim denied by all parties. 

A news outlet in Cairns – in far north Queensland – published the scuttlebut in its entirety, prompting Mr Fox to seek legal advice before pulling out.  

Defamation proceedings cost a fortune and can run for months for little to no return. 

Daniel Andrews fractured his T7 vertebrae (pictured), which is in the middle of his spine after slipping on wet stairs at a Mornington Peninsula holiday rental

Daniel Andrews fractured his T7 vertebrae (pictured), which is in the middle of his spine after slipping on wet stairs at a Mornington Peninsula holiday rental

Acting Premier James Merlino has taken on the top job while his boss recovers

Acting Premier James Merlino has taken on the top job while his boss recovers 

CHAIRMAN DAN’S PAIN IN THE BACK  

March 2:  Premier Daniel Andrews insists billionaire Lindsay Fox has not received any special deals from the government over a proposal to build a quarantine facility at Avalon Airport. 

March 9: Mr Andrews takes a fall down stairs while on a break in Sorrento.

A delay by government spin-doctors in revealing facts sparks malicious rumours and speculation linked to Mr Andrews’ relationship with Mr Fox. 

March 13: The Premier leaves intensive care after avoiding surgery

March 14: Mr Andrews is released from hospital to undergo rehabilitation at his Melbourne home through Alfred Health’s Better@Home service.  

April 4:  Mr Andrews took to social media to report he was back on his feet and walking. 

‘I’m making steady progress and being diligent with my physio exercises. Also building up my walking and am up to about 18 minutes on my daily walk,’ he said.

April 18: The Premier posts a photo of himself and his daughter and says he can now walk for up to an hour. 

June 2: He returns to social media amid calls from Victorians as to where he is with his recovery.  

The case was dumped before it began. 

But the damage to Mr Andrews’ reputation was done and the stories have lingered as the days, weeks and months have dragged on. 

As Victoria entered its second week of its fourth lockdown this week, the issue of the Premier’s fall was raised again – this time directly by the Liberal opposition.  

The Liberals – who have been content to take pot shots at the Premier throughout three lockdowns while backing his plays for extended emergency powers – issued 11 public questions to the Premier on Monday demanding he explain what had happened. 

Among them were questions asking him if Victoria Police had become involved over the accident. 

The opposition was immediately slammed by sections of the legal fraternity for embarking on ‘grubby politics’.  

On Tuesday, Mr Andrews took the extraordinary move to give permission for Ambulance Victoria to release a statement about his fall to dispel claims that his accident was a ‘cover-up’. 

The statement added little to what Mr Andrews had already told the public in March. 

Paramedics that attended a house in Sorrento gave him painkillers for fractured ribs before driving him to Peninsula Private Hospital Emergency Department for further treatment.  

While speculation upon how the Premier found himself to fall down the flight of stairs could be described as wild, speculation about the reasons for his extended absence may not be. 

Mr Andrews remains the nation’s best-paid premier on $441,439 a year. 

During his time off sick, Mr Andrews has earned $110,057.22 – almost double the average annual salary of Victorians which is $63,000. 

Victorian Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan looks on as Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews addresses the media a month before his fall

Victorian Minister for Transport Infrastructure Jacinta Allan looks on as Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews addresses the media a month before his fall

A series of questions put forward to Mr Andrews about his fall have been blasted by his colleagues and sections of the legal fraternity

A series of questions put forward to Mr Andrews about his fall have been blasted by his colleagues and sections of the legal fraternity 

On the morning of the accident, early reports suggested he could be fit to return to work within just 10 days. 

‘He took a fall this morning as he was preparing for work, he’s in hospital getting some precautionary X-rays, no head injuries,’ Acting Premier James Merlino told reporters at a news conference from Healesville just hours after his boss’s fall. 

The estimation quickly blew out to no less than six weeks.  

The Alfred’ hospital’s director of trauma services Professor Mark Fitzgerald said Mr Andrews had responded well to the surgery. 

On March 14 – the day Mr Andrews was released from hospital – Mr Merlino suggested he might be in charge for longer than any Victorian might imagine. 

‘I’ll be acting premier for some time so we’re having those discussions and resolving those issues with the Commonwealth,’ Mr Merlino said.

‘As (Mr Andrews) indicated last night, it’s great to see him out of intensive care and into a ward, that’s a great step forward and great relief.’

Insiders have told Daily Mail Australia Mr Merlino, who also held the education and mental health portfolios, had enthusiastically embraced the acting premier role. 

He had also managed to escape mostly unscathed from the angst of Victoria’s locked down community. 

Transport Minister Jacinta Allan also made a point of being seen that day, expressing surprise Mr Andrews had escaped hospital so soon.

‘We can take that as a really positive sign. That’s good news for him,’ she said at the time. 

In August, when Mr Andrews’ popularity was at an all time low, Ms Allan was said to be a viable replacement. 

She was elected to Parliament in 1999 when, at age 26, she defeated a sitting Liberal MP more than twice her age in the rural city of Bendigo.

Daniel Andrews has been up and about since early April, but has rarely been seen since

Daniel Andrews has been up and about since early April, but has rarely been seen since

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews (left) and his wife Catherine arrive at Williamstown Town Hall for the state funeral of Joan Kirner in Melbourne in 2015

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews (left) and his wife Catherine arrive at Williamstown Town Hall for the state funeral of Joan Kirner in Melbourne in 2015

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 some-one else's body

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 some-one else’s body

Two decades later, she is the longest-serving female cabinet minister in the history of Victorian politics despite being only 46, and some say could soon revive a long Australian political tradition of a woman taking over from a man who struggles in the top job. 

When Mr Andrews was injured, Victorians had hardly forgotten the misery they endured while he was at the helm and his subsequent handballing of responsibility for the hotel quarantine disaster. 

More than 800 people died as a result of the quarantine debacle. 

On April 4 – now more than two months ago – Mr Andrews took to social media to report he was back on his feet and walking. 

‘I’m making steady progress and being diligent with my physio exercises. Also building up my walking and am up to about 18 minutes on my daily walk,’ he said.

Two weeks later he claimed to be out and about for anywhere up to an hour a day.  

He had not been heard from again until this week, which has only fueled debate about when he might come back and at what capacity. 

On Tuesday, Ms Allan took to twitter to show Victorians she had received ‘the jab’. 

Hailing from Labor’s socialist left, her boss’s faction, some political observers saw it as another play for the top job, and ponder when the man dubbed ‘Chairman Dan’ will make his return. 

PREMIER DANIEL ANDREWS’ INJURY EXPLAINED 

There are seven cervical vertebrae (C1-C7), 12 thoracic vertebrae (T1-T12), and five lumbar vertebrae (L1-L5).

Mr Andrews fractured his T7 vertebra, which is found in the thoracic spine. 

The area forms a semi-rigid cage due to its attachment to the ribs, which explains why the Premier broke those too. 

The injury sits at about half-way down the back and by most accounts causes extreme pain. 

Other injury symptoms include fatigue, anemia, circulatory weakness, weakened immune system, and low blood, among others.

Experts suggest similar injuries usually take up to three months to heal. 

 

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk