Hawthorn president Jeff Kennett has taken aim at Daniel Andrews over the Victorian Premier’s handling of the state’s virus crisis.
The AFL heavyweight and former Victorian Premier penned a scathing response to Andrews’ press conference on Tuesday addressing the outbreak in aged care facilities.
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Four of Victoria’s six deaths on Tuesday were linked to outbreaks in aged care, bringing the state’s toll from the virus to 83 and the national toll to 167.
There are now 4775 active COVID-19 cases across Victoria, with 769 of those are linked to aged care homes and 414 among health workers.
On Tuesday Andrews criticised the state’s aged care sector, declaring: “I would not let my mum be in some of these places.”
That statement sparked an angry response from Kennett, who labelled Andrews “disrespectful”.
“Mr Premier, your language today was so disrespectful of all those families who have no alternative but to put their elderly in care. And their carers,” Kennett wrote on Twitter.
“Hopefully you will have a choice with your mother. Others do not. Sadly you are so divorced from the community you lead.”
Kennett also accused Andrews of trying to shift the blame.
“Secondly for months our PM has stood by you, protected you from your Gang of 8’s extraordinary administrative failures,” Kennett added.
“Today you threw him under a bus as you failed to accept any responsibility for what is occurring in your state. You again failed any test of leadership.
“I accept the Premier is under pressure. In part because of his government’s profound failures, his desire to apportion blame to others, but now to indirectly attack families and employees of those in care is totally without compassion.”
Secondly for months our PM has stood by you, protected you from your Gang of 8's extraordinary administrative failures. Today you threw him under a bus as you failed to accept any responsibility for what is occurring in your State. You again failed any test of leadership— Jeff Kennett (@jeff_kennett) July 28, 2020
Kennett’s club Hawthorn has joined every Victoria-based AFL team in relocating to Queensland due to the concerning outbreaks.
Backlash over Daniel Andrews’ comments
Andrews on Tuesday announced elective surgeries would be suspended in metropolitan Melbourne, except for category one and the most urgent category two procedures.
He said the move would free up hospital beds to treat residents and allow health workers to go into aged care homes to cope with the staff shortages.
He said it would also allow staff to provide care and support to the most vulnerable residents in and coming out of private sector aged care, noting resident transfers would be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
The premier told reporters he would not want in his mother in some of the federally regulated homes, prompting an emotional defence of carers and nurses from federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.
Staff shortages due to isolation orders is being partly blamed for the deadly situation, with Deputy Chief Medical Officer Nick Coatsworth saying senior nurses and managers had to avoid work because of coronavirus contacts.
“No business in Australia has a business continuity plan that accounts for their entire workforce not being able to go to work,” he said on Wednesday.
“I think in a lot of ways that has led some of the most affected institutions to where they are now.”