Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has responded to the shock resignation of Health Minister Jenny Mikakos, which came after he suggested she was partly to blame for the bungled coronavirus hotel quarantine scheme.
Addressing media during his daily coronavirus update on Saturday, Mr Andrews said he did not speak to Ms Mikakos before or after she resigned, but received a text from her informing him of her decision.
When asked about the content of the message, the premier refused to provide any details.
“I did not speak with the minister before she resigned and I’ve not spoken to her since. She sent me a text, she’s resigned. She’s no longer a minister,” he said.
Asked what the text said, he responded: “I think you would understand I’m not necessarily going to be going into those details, it was simply to inform you of the fact that a letter had been sent”.
He said he believed Ms Mikakos’s resignation was an “appropriate course of action”.
“I want to take this opportunity to that her for her dedicated service, for her hard work, she’s a very hard working person and I’m grateful to her for her efforts and I’m grateful to her for her contribution to the parliament and to the people of Victoria and to our party, and I wish her well for the future,” he said.
Mr Andrews was tight lipped on revealing exactly why he believed she had made the “right choice” to step down, and told media he had no conversations with her prior, nor did he ask her to resign.
Mr Andrews announced Mental Health Minister Martin Foley would be stepping in to replace Ms Mikakos and her additional roles would be filled in the coming days.
He later clarified he was aware of Ms Mikakos’s resignation hours prior to receiving her text, but he had not spoken to her on Friday night.
“I had the letter [to the governor]... I was informed of the actions she had taken,” Mr Andrews said.
“For the purposes of completeness, she had sent a text to me some hours after that.”
The premier said he did not believe he had received a missed call from Ms Mikakos on Friday night, but said his line was engaged due to being on the phone for many hours discussing other matters.
In a statement posted to her Twitter account on Saturday, Ms Mikakos said she had written to the Governor of Victoria to resign from her position effective immediately.
Mr Andrews spoke after a further 12 cases and one death, a woman in her 80s linked to an aged-care facility, were confirmed on Saturday.
Premier addresses ADF support offer
He was also questioned over a March National Cabinet meeting where ADF support was discussed, explaining his impression leaving the meeting was that NSW was the targeted recipient.
This was due to more planes entering the state and the Ruby Princess saga, the premier said.
He added Prime Minister Scott Morrison then made a “more general offer” regarding the opportunity for other states to access ADF support.
Saturday’s death takes the state toll to 782 and the national figure to 870.
Ms Mikakos also intends to resign from parliament after Mr Andrews on Friday gave evidence to the hotel inquiry, where he pointed partial blame at the minister for her role in the quarantine scheme, which led to the state's deadly second wave of infections.
In her one-page statement, she said the premier's comments led her to believe she couldn't continue serving in his cabinet.
"I am disappointed that my integrity has sought to be undermined," she said.
Ms Mikakos said when the case numbers in Melbourne started to rise again in June, she sought an explanation and on June 30 received a briefing on a genomic sequencing report.
The report confirmed 99 per cent of Victoria's second-wave infections could be linked to outbreaks among staff and security guards at the Rydges on Swanston and Stamford Plaza hotel.
"To say that I was shocked would be a massive understatement," Ms Mikakos said on Saturday.
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