Most iconic moments of Daniel Andrews’ reign as premier

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Daniel Andrews’ eight-year tenure as Premier of Victoria has made him one of Australia’s most recognizable figures.

Scarred by the Covid pandemic and record-breaking lockdowns in his state, Mr Andrews also faced a series of other defining moments in his career.

From prolific party infighting to violent city protests and his own brush with death, here are the most memorable political sagas of his final term.

COVID CONFERENCE MARATHON 120 DAYS

Victoria’s second wave in mid-2020 caused the state to freeze under crippling lockdowns as Covid numbers remained low across the rest of the country.

Hit with more than 725 daily cases of coronavirus primarily tearing the aged care sector apart, Mr Andrews faced the media in a marathon of lengthy press conferences.

The Prime Minister’s 120-day stagecoach was watched by millions of Victorians under strict Stage 4 restrictions as he fielded questions from enthusiastic reporters.

Rules imposed during the four-month period included mandatory masks, a 5km movement bubble and Melbourne having an 8 p.m. curfew.

However, on October 29, 2020, as the state slowly rolled back the restrictions, Mr Andrews gave hints that the saga was coming to an end.

” Other problems ? he asked reporters as usual as the presser finished.

“Otherwise I won’t be seeing you tomorrow, the Minister of Health will be doing the daily briefing and I’m sure you’re all very happy to hear this news.”

Mr Andrews had delivered a daily coronavirus update since July 3, days before the second wave lockdown began.

ANTI-VAXXER PROTESTS

A year after Victoria’s second mammoth lockdown, the state government has faced another Covid-induced saga – its efforts to vaccinate millions.

While the vast majority complied, thousands of industrial workers with sting warrants took to the streets in spectacular protest marches that stretched across the city.

Flares, flags, chaotic scenes and arrests abounded as tens of thousands of people regularly gathered to denounce the government’s response to the pandemic.

However, much of the criticism was directed at the prime minister.

During a welcome to the country at a protest, Djab Wurrung man Zellanach Djab Mara said a ‘satanic war’ was going on in the state.

“I’m pro-choice, I don’t care if you’ve been vaccinated or not…it’s your choice,” he said.

“Don’t worry about shutting down Dan Andrews, shutting down the whole system.”

ADEM SOMYUREK

For nearly two decades before being ousted in disgrace, Adem Somyurek was a long-serving Labor MP and cabinet stalwart in the Andrews government.

But a bombshell investigation by The Age has uncovered secret tapes purporting to show Mr Somyurek organizing a stack of branches.

Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews, MP Adem Domyurek and MP Tim Pallas stop at Geelong Port.
Camera iconNext, Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews with Adem Somyurek (middle), who served as a Labor MP for nearly two decades before being ousted. Credit: Limited News

The investigation alleged that Mr Somyurek registered local party members with false details, took funds from business owners to pay party membership fees and ordered ministerial staff to work on branch consolidation activities.

He was also accused of making derogatory remarks towards MPs Gabrielle Williams and Marlene Kairouz and ministerial staff which were interpreted as sexist and homophobic.

Mr Andrews sacked Mr Somyurek from his cabinet and referred his conduct to Victoria Police and the broad-based Independent Anti-Corruption Commission for further investigation.

Although Mr. Somyurek was found guilty of breaching parliamentary codes of conduct, there was insufficient evidence that he had committed criminal offenses to recommend prosecution.

MASS MINISTER RETIRES

On an unassuming day in June 2022, decades of Victorian Labor political experience withdrew from the ministry.

Within 15 minutes, Deputy Prime Minister James Merlino, Health Minister Martin Foley, Police Minister Lisa Neville and former Attorney General Martin Pakula announced they were stepping down.

Mr Merlino, who has also served as Minister for Education and Minister for Mental Health, paid tribute to the Prime Minister in his announcement.

CAUCUS MEETING
Camera iconJames Merlino was one of four ministers to step down in June 2022. NCA NewsWire/Brendan Beckett Credit: News Corp Australia

“Dan is a leader characterized by courage and determination, intelligence and kindness,” he said.

However, the shock announcements have left Mr Andrews and his government scrambling to find new faces to fill the ministry just five months before the national election.

NEAR-FATAL FALL

Almost a year into the pandemic and months after restrictions were lifted, Mr Andrews suffered a horrific fall which left him in intensive care.

He suffered five fractured ribs and an acute compression fracture of the T7 vertebra when he slipped on wet steps at a Mornington Peninsula holiday home.

In a video, posted months after the accident, Mr Andrews said he could not breathe after a fall and turned blue, later suffering from respiratory failure.

Daniel Andrews hospitalized after a serious fall in early 2021.
Camera iconMr Andrews in hospital after a serious fall in early 2021. Credit: Provided

“I almost became airborne. All I could hear was that almighty crack…and that’s when I knew it was serious,” he said.

“Cath must have heard me moan in pain. I couldn’t scream. I couldn’t breathe anymore.

Speaking publicly for the first time since the crash, Mr Andrews’ wife Cath explained the moment she saw her husband ‘turning blue’.

“It was awful… We were looking at each other and I was thinking ‘you’re going to die here in Sorrento in this holiday home’, and you were looking at me, and you felt the same way.”

The prime minister spent nearly a week in hospital and three months off work recovering from his injuries.

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