Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has delayed his return to work after a serious back injury and will now miss the May state budget.
Deputy Premier James Merlino said on Monday that Mr Andrews’ recovery is progressing well, despite his decision to take more time to heal before coming back to work.
Mr Andrews suffered at least five broken ribs and an acute compression fracture of the T7 vertebra after slipping on wet stairs at a holiday home on March 9.
The 48-year-old was released from hospital on March 15 and has been recovering at home since.
At the time he said he would require at least six weeks to recover, which suggested a return late in April.
But in a social media post on Sunday, the Premier said he now expected to be back at work in June and would miss the May 20 budget.
“I’m making slow and steady progress,” he said.
Mr Andrews has been diligent with his physiotherapy and revealed he is now able to walk for almost an hour a day.
“A couple of weeks ago when I started daily walks, I could only manage about 15 minutes. Now I’m out for almost an hour.”
Mr Merlino, who has been acting premier in his absence, said the delay was based purely on doctor’s advice.
“You don’t mess with a back injury,” Mr Merlino said.
The Premier was “very very lucky” to avoid permanent spinal damage in the fall, he added.
Mr Merlino described Mr Andrews’ recovery as “long” and “painful” but said he was progressing well.
“He’s in good spirits. The positive thing out of the announcement yesterday is that Dan’s got a clear path back to getting back on his feet and working full time as premier and that will occur in June,” he said.
“In the meantime, every member of cabinet, every member of government is not wasting a day.
“We’ve been working on the state budget for the last few months, we’ll be putting the final touches on it over the next few weeks.”
Mr Merlino said he is in regular contact with Mr Andrews on important issues but, for the most part, he was leaving him to focus on his recovery.
“We need him fit and firing, ready to go when he’s back in June.”
Mr Andrews said on Sunday that while it was frustrating to be away from work, there was no alternative.
“You only get one chance to properly recover from serious injuries,” he said.
“We just have to wait until the ribs and spinal fracture have properly healed.”
Mr Andrews again thanked the health professionals involved in his recovery and all Victorians who had sent messages of love and support.
He said that support meant a lot.