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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Daniel Andrews nominated for leadership award

Daniel Andrews has been nominated for a political leadership award despite presiding over three lockdowns and a coronavirus disaster which killed 801 Victorians.

The Victoria premier is shortlisted for the 2020 McKinnon Political Leader of the Year prize alongside five other politicians including Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

The judging panel that selected him praised his ‘firm, decisive and courageous leadership through Victoria’s COVID-19 crisis’.

But political opponents have been left fuming as the state endures a third lockdown after coronavirus escaped from hotel quarantine last week. 

The latest restrictions follow a major outbreak over winter which killed 801 Victorians and led to a four-month lockdown of Melbourne that destroyed businesses and jobs.

Liberal MP James Newbury said Mr Andrews’ nomination for the award was a ‘disgrace’.

“It is an insult to the families of the 800 Victorians who died during his government’s second wave,” he told Daily Mail Australia.

“And it’s a slap in the face to the thousands of mum and dad small businesses that he sent broke.”

Referring to Victoria’s current five-day lockdown, Mr Newbury added: “Without warning, and because of his incompetence, he has shut down our state. We have been locked into our homes and the economy has been sledgehammered again.”

“He only deserves one award: the most dangerous political leader in our lifetime.” 

During the four-month lockdown, residents were only allowed out of their homes to exercise for an hour.

Melbourne endured a four-month lockdown over winter after coronavirus leaked from two quarantine hotels in May and June.

The virus rapidly spread, causing 801 deaths and 20,000 cases, peaking at 725 new infections on August 5.

The lockdown was one of the harshest in the world, forcing residents to stay in their homes except for one hour of exercise per day within five kilometres of their address.

Thousands of businesses were pushed to the brink of collapse and thousands of families lost loved ones. 

Mr Andrews was roundly criticised for being unable to explain who made the decision to use private security to guard the hotels instead of the police.

An inquiry into the disaster by former judge Jennifer Coate heard the outbreak and subsequent four-month lockdown caused ‘devastation and despair’.  

“It was a program which failed to meet its primary objective to keep us safe from the virus,” said counsel assisting Ben Ihle.

The McKinnon prize judging panel noted that Mr Andrews was ‘criticised for the devastating failings of Victoria’s hotel quarantine system’.

But it also said ‘he was acknowledged for swiftly calling an inquiry into the system, and for committing to act on its recommendations.’ 

Liberal frontbencher Tim Smith described the Coate Inquiry as a ‘sham’ and said if Mr Andrews wins then the award ‘isn’t worth the paper it’s written on’. 

“It’s obvious that Andrews didn’t learn anything from the Coate Inquiry as infection control failures have ensured further Covid-19 transmission from Victorian quarantine hotels,” he told Daily Mail Australia.

“This Premier has failed. A total of 801 people died last year in Victoria because of his government’s failings. The only award Andrews should get is for outrageous spin,” he added.

Victoria’s latest outbreak began on Monday when a hotel quarantine worker at the Holiday Inn at Melbourne Airport caught the virus from a returned traveller before more guests and workers caught the disease. 

Mr Andrews plunged the whole state into a five-day lockdown on Friday but has refused to confirm the restrictions will be lifted on time.  

The McKinnon prize panel – made up of former politicians and prominent journalists – will pick a winner later this month. 

The other nominees are Scott Morrison, Josh Frydenberg, Health Minister Greg Hunt, Indigenous Australians Minister Ken Wyatt and NSW Energy Minister Matt Kean.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian won the award last year. 

Why was Daniel Andrews nominated for leadership award? 

The judging panel said: ‘Premier Andrews was shortlisted for the 2020 McKinnon Political Leader of the year based on his firm, decisive and courageous leadership through Victoria’s COVID-19 crisis.

‘Throughout the crisis, he based key decisions on expert health advice – a brave approach which led to some less popular decisions. Victoria’s approach to the second wave of the

‘COVID-19 pandemic has been cited as a key influence on the British Government’s decision to take a hard-line approach to social restrictions introduced in 2021.

‘Andrews developed an effective working relationship with his Federal and State counterparts through the new National Cabinet, particularly with Prime Minister Scott Morrison. 

‘Although Andrews was criticised for the devastating failings of Victoria’s hotel quarantine system, he was acknowledged for swiftly calling an inquiry into the system, and for committing to act on its recommendations.’ 

This article first appeared in Daily Mail Australia.

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