Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty
Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty

Mikakos owes Victorians more than a late-night apology

Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos's performance during this crisis has been nothing short of abominable.

At every opportunity, she's avoided answering the important questions about her knowledge of what went on in the mishandling of the state's disastrous hotel quarantine program.

Mikakos should be ashamed of her behaviour in state parliament last week - where she refused to answer the tough questions fired at her by Opposition health spokeswoman Georgie Crozier.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton advised against parliament sitting due to the workplace restrictions but Mikakos turned up.

She later declared it was a "dangerous trend" for "leaders" such as herself to ignore such medical advice and attend parliament. So it's safe to go to the supermarket or bottle shop but dangerous to sit in parliament to maintain democracy, all while social distancing?

The smug minister appeared more interested in scrolling through her iPhone and decided to gag herself, declaring she would give written responses to the questions asked of her about the crisis the next day. This too was appalling.

Mikakos has avoided answering questions about her knowledge of what went on in the disastrous hotel quarantine program. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Ian Currie
Mikakos has avoided answering questions about her knowledge of what went on in the disastrous hotel quarantine program. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Ian Currie

The responses merely said she wouldn't comment on hotel quarantine because it was the subject of an inquiry, nor would she release a genomic report into Victoria's positive COVID-19 cases. This is the same minister who declared the Cedar Meats outbreak - which ended up growing to a cluster of more than 100 COVID-19 cases - was handled "absolutely perfectly".

And the woman who has been at the forefront of the shocking contact tracing system which has been a dog's breakfast and failed the people of Victoria.

Mikakos backed up her poor behaviour when, after choosing to remain silent in parliament, she bizarrely chose Twitter to give a late-night, half-cooked apology to hardworking Victorians.

In her Twitter rant on Saturday night, Mikakos rambled on about Greek history, the Spanish flu and declared she had worked every day since January to "keep everyone safe". "If it wasn't enough, then I'm deeply sorry," she wrote. Yet the minister had the audacity to say the timing of her midnight-hour tweets was because: "I work very late hours".

No one doubts the hours she is putting in but what a conceited, self-indulgent explanation of why she was firing off a barrage of public posts late into the night. At least she's got a job, unlike so many Victorians.

On Monday, Victoria recorded 19 deaths - the highest since this crisis started. Hundreds of thousands of Victorians were forced onto the dole queue last week, and many others already have had their livelihoods destroyed and freedoms stripped from them.

 

Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Ian Currie
Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos with Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Ian Currie

The Andrews government is responsible for the biggest public health administration failure in the nation's history and yet still to this day the Premier and his inept ministers, including Mikakos, have refused to explain exactly what they knew about the failed hotel quarantine program.

Revelations have leaked showing the government was warned about the cracks appearing on day one of the program when Andrews and his team decided to let nightclub bouncers run the critical program, instead of police and ADF personnel.

But for months Victorians have remained in the dark about what happened, until retired judge Jennifer Coate, who is leading the state's hotel quarantine probe, declared last week anyone who was involved could speak freely about it.

This knocked on the head the excuse Andrews and his ministers continued to wheel and hide behind when quizzed.

 

Mikakos issued an apology via social media. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty
Mikakos issued an apology via social media. Picture: Quinn Rooney/Getty

But still Mikakos failed to reveal exactly what she knew about the program, which has ultimately led to Victorians being forced into home detention.

Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg last week said half of Victoria's private sector would be relying on welfare to survive.

Victoria could be headed for 20 per cent unemployment when the JobKeeper tap is finally turned off in March next year.

About 273,000 Victorian businesses and nearly a million employees rely on the scheme while many others are on pensions and JobSeeker (previously known as Newstart).

About five million Melburnians are locked up in their homes for the next five weeks, putting households under immense strain.

And all Mikakos could offer at Monday's press conference when quizzed about her online tirade was she wasn't going to be a commentator on herself.

She repeated this explanation five times.

Former deputy chief health officer Annaliese van Diemen has been the only public-facing scalp in Victoria during this crisis, the woman who decided to give her take on Australian history, declaring Captain Cook decimated populations.

Mikakos has let down the Victorian people and they deserve more than a late-night Twitter feast, including a half-baked attempt to say sorry.

Sophie Elsworth is a Herald Sun columnist.

sophie.elsworth@news.com.au

@sophieelsworth

Originally published as Mikakos owes Victorians more than a late-night apology


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