There has been scathing reaction following the sensational news that Victoria’s Premier Dan Andrews was resigning from the post he has held for nine years.
The 48th Premier of Victoria announced his decision at a snap press conference today describing the job as the “honour and privilege of my life”.
Liberal Party powerbroker Michael Kroger argued that Mr Andrews had over the years “got away with murder” politically speaking.
“Record debt. Small businesses are still broken and have not recovered from these extreme measures during the lockdown,’’ Mr Kroger told Sky News.
“He leaves a broken, bankrupt state behind him. That’s his legacy.
“The financial recklessness of Daniel Andrews is unprecedented. And will take a generation to recover from.
“He got away with murder, in a political sense, by winning in 2014, 2018 and 2022.
“Victoria will be better for Daniel Andrews having left today.”
Andrews to leave “pretty significant” legacy
Whether Australians who voted Mr Andrews in would feel “short-changed” by his decision was raised by ABC radio Melbourne Mornings host Raf Epstein.
“I think you have to take it at face value … That he has made that decision in the last few days. I don’t know if that will be OK for the Victorian voters who voted for him at the last election,” Epstein said.
“It was certainly a question last year, ‘how long will you hang around for?’ and he said, ‘as long as the voters in my party room want me’. Whether or not people feel short-changed by that, I don’t know.”
Regardless, Epstein was confident Mr Andrews would leave a “pretty significant” legacy, given the extent of the pressure he faced throughout the Covid lockdowns.
“He was genuinely troubled by the pressure over lockdowns [and] the ridiculous loony bin conspiracy theories that I think the Liberal Party, not the current team, but some in the previous team, fuelled,” Epstein said.
“That was not the right thing to do, I think that took its toll.”
Resignation highlights how ‘taxing’ job is
Mr Andrews’ decision was a clear sign of the true toll being premier took on him, Nine’s chief political editor, Charles Croucher said.
“Anthony Albanese has made it clear he is close to Daniel Andrews. He has said as much and the premier in his press conference said the prime minister was quite surprised at what happened here.
“It’s an indication of how taxing this job can be on individuals and indeed how volatile politics can be at the moment.”
Mr Croucher pointed out that of the leaders that sat around the National Cabinet table during lockdown, only Annastacia Palaszczuk remains as a premier, alongside ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr.
“Obviously the last few months have taken their toll on the Premier. I think the decision with the Commonwealth Games had wide reaching impacts,” he said.
Mr Andrews successor would have big shoes to fill, he added.
“Whoever is stepping into that seat will inherit some of those problems and inherit the huge majority that was won at the election on the back of Daniel Andrews and also inherit some of that state debt there as well. [it will be] a big challenging time for the person who takes those shoes.”
Former premier ‘not surprised’ at resignation
Steve Bracks, the premier of Victoria from 1999 to 2007, told ABC he was “not surprised” Mr Andrews had decided to quit.
“I know exactly what he is going through, a lot of the issues repeat themselves after a while and he is in that space now,” Mr Bracks said.
He said once leaders began thinking of what life looked life after politics, it was “time to go”.
“I think he had that great mix of strong effective leadership and bringing about applicant transformational infrastructure projects, a big build, and with social reforms as well,” Mr Bracks said.
That included voluntary assisted dying laws and running a strong economy simultaneously.
Mr Bracks said his government was one of the most progressive Victoria ever had and Mr Andrews managed it “in a way that brings people with him and brings people with him as he develops and grows the state”.
Broadcaster Tony Jones told Nine he expected there to be people celebrating on the street.
“This will be divisive because we had protests in the streets of Melbourne today with the Firefighters Union,” he said.
“But there will be dancing in the streets today from the general public because he’s such a divisive figure.”
Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese responded to the news in a lengthy post to Facebook, saying it had been a pleasure working “alongside an old friend”.
“Daniel Andrews is a person of deep conviction, great compassion and fierce determination and he brought all those qualities to his time as Premier of Victoria,” Mr Albanese said.
“Dan has always been a builder and in education, health, infrastructure and housing he has built an extraordinary legacy that will endure for generations.”
His time as premier wasn’t measurable only in years, but also achievements, Mr Albanese said.
“Opportunities created through TAFE and early education reform. Melbourne and the regions remade by record investments in infrastructure and public transport. An ambitious plan for the construction of 800,000 new homes right across Victoria,” he said.
“A new generation of powerful social progress on equality, action against family violence and investments in mental health.”
Despite the challenges and pressures he faced, like during the Covid pandemic, Mr Andrews had remained staunch in his approach, the Prime Minister said.
“Dan’s leadership was tested by some of the toughest times. In the relentless pressure of a once-in-a-generation pandemic, Dan never shirked the hard decisions. He fronted up, he stood up and he did everything in his power to keep Victorians safe,” he said.
“As Prime Minister, it was a pleasure for me to work alongside an old friend – and a leader of such vision and ambition. It made a huge difference to sit at the National Cabinet table with someone who believed so deeply in the power of government to change lives for the better.
“Nearly nine years as Premier is a remarkable achievement. Dan Andrews can be proud that he didn’t waste a minute. I wish Dan, Cath and their children all the very best for their future together.”
Victorian Liberal MP Jason Wood had a less glowing review for the outgoing premier.
“Daniel Andrews has resigned as Premier of Victoria. Sadly, his legacy includes record lockdowns for Victorians during Covid, major cost blow outs for infrastructure projects, and the cancelled Commonwealth Games. What do you think – was he a great Premier or is it about time he left?” he wrote on Facebook.
Queensland Senator for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation party, Malcolm Roberts, also had some scathing words for Mr Andrews.
“Resigning won’t stop you facing accountability for your actions during Covid Dan, we will get a Royal Commission with the power to look into State Premiers,” he said.
Aussies react to shock resignation
Australians have since taken to social media to react to the news with some celebrating it and others mourning the state’s loss.
“Didn’t always agree with everything Dan Andrews did, but during those lockdowns I really always believed his sole objective was to protect this state and its people as best as it could be. Doesn’t mean every choice was right. He was progressive and caring on issues,” an upset Aussie shared to X, formerly Twitter.
“You did a great job @DanielAndrewsMP and I’m proud to have been a Victorian during one of the toughest obstacles for our country. Sorry to see you go. You’ll be remembered fondly,” another said.
“OMG! Hope he is all right!!” someone else wrote.
Others made it known they were happy Mr Andrews would be leaving the role.
“My opinion … The toilets at Parliament House breathe a sigh of relief – their biggest a**ehole is gone,” one said.
Some suggested a public holiday be announced in honour of the news.
“Finally, endgame. Hopefully there is no part two,” one wrote.
Mr Andrews, 51, appeared emotional as he revealed the decision to quit came after realising the job had started to “consume” him.
“Nine years ago, I visited Government House to be sworn in as the 48th Premier of Victoria,’’ he said. “But when it’s time, it’s time.
“It’s time to go and to give this privilege, this amazing responsibility to someone else.”