Minister slammed for late-night spree
The Victorian opposition has accused the state's health minister of bathing in self pity as criticism builds over the hotel quarantine coronavirus bungle.
After refusing to answer questions in parliament, Victoria's Minister for Health Jenny Mikakos took to Twitter late on Saturday night to speak at length about the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic, apologising for any mistakes she had made.
At 11.54pm, Ms Mikakos said she was "deeply sorry", admitting that "humans are flawed".
She defended the state government's actions while acknowledging that perfection was impossible at a time like this.
"Since the first case in January, a huge effort by thousands of health care workers and many others has seen a huge amount of good work achieved in preparing our health system," Ms Mikakos wrote.
"It was work that needed to be done quickly and nimbly because the virus would not wait and no doubt, mistakes were made along the way, because humans are flawed yet contagious viruses are unforgiving.
"And to our collective frustration we find ourselves in a second wave, like many other parts of the world, this one more deadly than the first. And our collective heartache is enormous for every grieving family, every unemployed worker, every person not coping at home alone."
Since that fateful day on 25 January, when we had our first-ever case, I’ve worked every day to keep everyone safe. I have put every ounce of energy I’ve had into that effort. If it wasn’t enough, then I’m deeply sorry.— Jenny Mikakos MP #StayHomeSaveLives (@JennyMikakos) August 8, 2020
But Victoria's opposition, Liberal leader Michael O'Brien, appeared on Nine News on Sunday night claiming Ms Mikakos was wrong to have reacted in such a way and demanded the "truth" over Victoria's hotel quarantine mess.
"Victorians don't want to see minister's engaging in self pity. Victorians just want answers.
They don't want Twitter apologies, they want the truth," he said.
The Vic Health Minister tweeted an apology but refuses to tell the truth about Labor’s hotel quarantine 2nd wave.— Michael O'Brien (@michaelobrienmp) August 9, 2020
“Victorians don’t want to see Ministers engaging in self pity; Victorians just want answers.
“They don’t want ‘Twitter apologies’; they want the truth”. #springst pic.twitter.com/YKjI0YxiQ8
In her tweets, Ms Mikakos then took some personal responsibility for the government's handling of the pandemic.
"Since that fateful day on 25 January, when we had our first-ever case, I've worked every day to keep everyone safe. I have put every ounce of energy I've had into that effort," she said.
"If it wasn't enough, then I'm deeply sorry."
Her apology came just in time for Victoria's deadliest day yet.
In Sunday's press conference, Victorian Premier Dan Andrews announced that 17 Aussies had died in the last 24 hours, more than any other day so far in the pandemic.
Ms Mikakos defended herself against the blame directed at her and other members of the Andrews government in regards to the botched hotel quarantine system in Victoria.
"I've always striven to be upfront and measured about the challenges facing us," she said.
"So it pains me to see the incorrect assumption made that somehow I can single-handedly report on the actions of countless individuals and many agencies involved in our pandemic response.
"Let the independent judge do her job, let the cards fall where they may. I believe there is nothing to fear in seeking the truth. The truth will set you free."
The Health Minister was referring to the inquiry into the hotel quarantine debacle, headed by former judge Jennifer Coate.
Ms Mikakos has repeatedly said that she will not comment on the quarantine saga while the inquiry is ongoing.
The tweetstorm drew criticism from some quarters including Shadow Minister for Health Georgie Crozier, wasn't pulling any punches.
I’ll just leave talk about democracy right here. We owe a lot to the Greeks, & I’m sure those founding fathers would have wanted you to answer my questions put to you in our Parliament this week too. #Truth #Transparency #springst pic.twitter.com/vOb7T6iFSv— Georgie Crozier MP (@georgiecrozier) August 8, 2020
More criticism came in thick and fast.
"You've absolutely lost it Jenny. So (do) the right thing and fall on your sword," one person said.
However, others applauded Ms Mikakos for her response and acknowledged that she was doing the best job she could under the circumstances.
"You have one of the most difficulty jobs in Australia right now," one Twitter user said.
"My heart goes out to you and my sincere thanks for doing your best for my home state."
Respect 🙏🙏🙏🙏we All have our part to play.. Thank you for your service to Victorians and Australia pic.twitter.com/iC88TlIYG6— ljhou (@Breakthruleader) August 8, 2020
Originally published as Minister slammed for late-night spree