Premier Dan Andrews has hit back at claims the family of legendary comedian Barry Humphries had snubbed Victoria for a Sydney state funeral as “just fiction”.
The Melbourne-born comedian died last month in Sydney aged 89 following medical complications stemming from hip surgery earlier this year.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese unveiled plans last week to host a joint state funeral for Mr Humphries, which would involve Victoria, as well as NSW and the Commonwealth.
However, the Herald Sun reported Mr Humphries’ family had declined the state government’s offer to host the event in Melbourne, while entertainment reporter Peter Ford said it was because of Mr Andrews.
Mr Andrews told reporters n Friday he wasn’t going to “have an argument with anybody, least of all an entertainment reporter”, before lambasting claims the Humphries’ family were displeased with his government.
“What’s been reported is wrong,” Mr Andrews said.
“It is misinformation and absolute nonsense – nonsense that is just fiction – which is making a difficult time harder.
“The misinformation is the last thing the family needs as they morn their family.”
Mr Humphries’ eldest son Oscar Humphries broke his silence on Friday, telling The Australia plans for a Sydney event were not a “snub”.
“The two offers of a state memorial were a wonderful honour for my father and received with much gratitude,” he told the publication.
“It is such an honour and a touching recognition of his contribution to Australian culture and what he meant to so many people.”
Mr Andrews said he also received a “lengthy text” from Oscar, in which he told the premier Mr Humphries’ family had “no problem” with Victoria or the Andrews government.
Ford said on Wednesday the Mr Humphries’ family was “greatly distressed”.
“They said from the beginning they did not want to Victorian government involved,” Ford told 3AW.
“They don’t want their fingerprints anywhere near it and yet you’ve got the Prime Minister announcing that Victoria is co-hosting it.
“Daniel Andrews is talking in a similar vein and he is saying the family are disagreeing on certain aspects on what is going to take place.”
Earlier in the week, Mr Andrews had said it was up to the family as to where to host the official state funeral.
“That’s ultimately their call,” Mr Andrews said.
“If not everyone in the family necessarily agrees with that, there could be multiple opinions within that family.
“That’s a matter for them and we should respect their privacy.”