A Liberal MP has hit out at “cowards” in his own party for defending Daniel Andrews’ handling of the coronavirus, following a weekend of obvious strain on Victorian leaders grappling with a second wave.
On Sunday, former NSW premier Mike Baird praised the Victorian leader for “working his absolute guts out”, saying now was “not the time to second-guess or finger point”.
As Mr Andrews “tries to do the impossible”, Mr Baird urged people to give Victoria’s leaders “strength, not grief”.
Sunday was Australia’s deadliest day in the pandemic yet, with Victoria confirming another 17 fatalities, as well as 394 new infections.
But the plea from a fellow Liberal fell flat with former Victorian opposition leader Matthew Guy, who has been among those leading strong attacks on the Andrews government.
On Sunday night, Mr Guy tweeted: “Gee, I’ve got a sudden urge to comment on greyhound racing, nightclub lockouts and bungled tram lines.”
“But, alas, I have to prepare for tomorrow’s home school given Melbourne is in a stage 4 curfew lockdown, and we can’t go to Manly beach,” he wrote.
In a now-deleted Facebook post, Mr Guy also hit out at other NSW Liberals but did not specify who he was referring to.
“I think Victorian Liberals are getting fed up with two-faced NSW Liberal cowards who back Daniel Andrews. Federal and state ones,” he wrote.
Health Minister sorry
The comments come after speculation at the weekend about the strain on Victorian leaders amid intense pressure and questioning about the government’s handling of hotel quarantine.
In a lengthy string of tweets early on Saturday, state Health Minister Jenny Mikakos expressed distress at the “incorrect assumption” that she could “single-handedly report on the actions of countless individuals and many agencies”.
“There’s no detailed go-to manual of how to respond to these pandemics,” Ms Mikakos wrote.
In the tweets, she appeared to be answering those who have criticised her for repeatedly rebuffing questions about the hotel quarantine debacle, which is the subject of an independent judicial inquiry.
“It was work that needed to be done quickly and nimbly because the virus would not wait and no doubt, mistakes were made along the way, because humans are flawed yet contagious viruses are unforgiving,” Ms Mikakos said of her state’s pandemic responses.
Her tweets also compared the COVID outbreak to ancient Greece and historical pandemics, raising eyebrows and prompting questions from journalists at Sunday’s media briefing.
A thread: I’ve grown up inspired by Greece’s most enduring contribution to civilisation – democracy. A bust of the great Athenian statesman, Pericles, who built the Parthenon and governed during its golden age of educational and cultural achievement sits proudly in my office.
— Jenny Mikakos MP #StayHomeSaveLives (@JennyMikakos) August 8, 2020
Mr Andrews said on Sunday he hadn’t read Ms Mikakos’s entire 10-tweet thread, and hadn’t spoken to her personally since she posted it.
“She’s a very strong person,” the Premier said, when asked if she was “holding up OK?”.
“This virus doesn’t stop and none of us can afford to, either … all Victorians, we are resilient. We are strong,” he said.
Nurse says guests manipulated hotel quarantine staff
Meanwhile, a nurse has spoken out about hotel quarantine, in revelations expected to raise further questions about how locked-down guests were managed.
Workers for Victoria’s Department of Health and Human Services gave in to people’s requests for “fresh air” breaks amid concerns they would self-harm, the Melbourne nurse has told the ABC.
She alleged guests used Facebook to share tips about how to circumnavigate quarantine rules by playing up their anxiety.
Staff were concerned about the welfare of returned travellers in quarantine after a suspected suicide at the Pan Pacific hotel in South Wharf, the ABC reports.
Staff were trying to “fix” the anxiety of guests who threatened to self-harm when initial requests to leave their rooms were denied, the nurse said.
“As a result [staff] started having too many interactions with guests,” she told the ABC.
“We should have been seeing them as infrequently as possible.”
Victoria confirmed 17 more COVID fatalities on Sunday, having chalked up a full week in stage-four lockdown.
There were 394 new cases in the state, from more than 41,000 tests.
The deaths were two people in their 50s, four in their 70s, six in their 80s and five people in their 90s. They take Victoria’s toll to 210.
There are 43 Victorian COVID-19 patients in intensive care, 26 on ventilators.
More than 2700 confirmed cases around the state have no known source and remain of primary concern.
Almost 1000 Victorian healthcare workers also have COVID-19.
On Sunday, NSW health authorities confirmed 10 new coronavirus infections, one in a student at Bonnyrigg Heights Primary School in western Sydney.
All students will learn from home on Monday while cleaning and contact tracing are carried out.
St Agatha’s Catholic Church in Pennant Hills is also being deep cleaned after a parishioner’s positive test.
So far, 295 people have died of COVID-19 in Australia during the pandemic.