A photo taken outside Dan Andrews’ electorate office on the day of his departure shows just how differently his exit is being treated compared to other state leaders.
The Victorian Premier announced his shock resignation this week, with former deputy Jacinta Allan taking over his position from Thursday afternoon.
His resignation comes after 21 years as member for Mulgrave and nine as leader of the state.
His local community have expressed mixed feelings about the premier’s unexpected decision to move down, but the empty side walk outside his office may hold a clue to how they are reacting to his departure.
Stark differences could be drawn between the offices of Andrews and former NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian during their final days in parliament.
Ms Berejiklian resigned in 2021, after nearly five years in the job, amid revelations from the state’s anti-corruption watchdog of an investigation into her failure to report the conduct of her ex-lover, the former Wagga Wagga MP Daryl Maguire.
While Ms Berejiklian’s exit from the Premier’s seat was met with heartfelt notes and flowers from her constituents, Mr Andrews’ office was comparably bare.
Residents of Willoughby – in Sydney’s lush and affluent North Shore – felt compelled to show their appreciation for the former premier’s service, with one resident even tying huge silver balloons to Ms Berejiklian’s fence.
Mr Andrews’ office in Mulgrave, which is located on Melbourne’s busy Princes Highway, was notably unattended by locals and vacant of flowers, notes – or beers.
Locals seemed to share a sentiment of indifference over his departure.
Simon Blackwood, who turns 18 in three days, likened the resignation to that of WA’s former premier Mark McGowan.
“After nine years, like McGowan, it gets to people,” he said.
“Eventually there was going to have to be an end... honestly, I think he’s done a lot of good stuff for the state but I respect his decision to go when he’s said he needs to go.”
These comments were echoed by another local, 75-year-old Nick Gunn, who said he could understand Andrews feeling “pressure from the public” after nine years in office.
During his 2022 election campaign Mr Andrews repeatedly said he would stay for the full four-year term but revealed on Tuesday that he had “changed (his) mind”.
“You never want to finish up in a situation where you are not enjoying the work, where you are resentful of the fact that you are doing this and not do something else,” he said.
Local couple Pete and Maria, who have lived in the Mulgrave area for 40 years, said Andrews’ departure was “fantastic”.
“I’m glad he’s gone,” Pete said.
“I believe his reasons for resigning.”
The couple said Andrews would never be forgiven for the state’s lockdowns during the pandemic.
“There was a lot of cruelty during that time,” they said.
Another local named Graham, 71, shared similar feelings about the lockdowns.
“People forget the bad things he’s done... 200-odd days locked down,” he said.
Graham was less convinced by Andrews’ reasons for stepping down, calling it an “election gimmick”.
“As soon as he got back in all of a sudden, boom,” he said.
“I think there’s more to it.
“We’ll wait to see what comes out of the woodwork.”
Phil Rankin, also aged in his 70s, said he was “not happy” with the change in leadership and thought the outgoing premier had done “a great job”.
“During the lockdown he was trying to look after us, he was only doing what he was told by the health authorities... he did what he had to do,” he said.
“I know a lot of people hate him for what he did with the lockdowns... but I had a lot of underlying medical conditions so if I got Covid (before I was vaccinated) I was stuffed.”
Mr Rankin does, however, doubt the reasons for the surprise resignation.
“Taking all the level crossings out, that was holding up traffic big time everywhere... that’s a hell of a big job, but he’s spent a hell of a lot of money though,” he said.
“I think that had something to do with what’s going on.”