Dan Andrews will hand in his resignation in a matter of hours, marking the end of his nine-year reign in the job, but not everyone is rolling out the tributes to the soon to be former Premier.
Mr Andrews will hand over the reins to his successor at 5pm on Wednesday and force a by-election in the state seat of Mulgrave after confirming his abrupt departure just 24-hours earlier.
Federal Liberal senator Jane Hume said she was pleased to see the controversial Premier hang up his boots, arguing Victoria was “far worse off” for his presence.
“My state is broken and it is broke. $220bn debt, four times the debt when Daniel Andrews came to office,” she told Seven’s Sunrise.
“We’ve had numerous reports from the IBAC (anti-corruption commission) of systemic corruption … (The Premier) has contempt for the media, contempt for institutions, he has politicised our institutions and dismissed both political adversaries and colleagues alike.”
Nationals MP Darren Chester described Mr Andrews as “ruthless” and told Sky News there wasn’t a “single person” in the Gippsland region of Victoria “with a positive word to say” about him.
“He knew he could win re-election in Victoria by supporting the cities but also pouring money into places like Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong and quite frankly, starving other parts of regional Victoria,” Mr Chester said.
“There are people who love him and think he’s done a great job, and then people in my community would take the view that he was appalling to us during the Covid lockdowns.”
Nine radio host Neil Mitchell said Mr Andrews’ the sudden resignation had some wondering what “dirt” was about to hit “teflon Dan”.
“Such was the climate of spin and lack of transparency through his government that when the premier said something happened many looked for the real story,” he said.
Even as he resigned yesterday, some asked what dirt was about to hit which fan. Some disbelieved his public reasoning. He was Chairman Dan, and Teflon Dan.”
But Prime Minister Anthony Albanese defended Mr Andrews. He said there was “no doubt” that he was a “very strong leader”.
Mr Albanese praised Mr Andrews for his big-picture infrastructure plan, despite the fact it had largely contributed to Victoria’s rapidly growing debt.
“Infrastructure doesn’t get cheaper if you delay it,” Mr Albanese told ABC Radio.
“I lead a government that inherited almost a trillion dollars of debt. We’re going about dealing with that challenge that we inherited.
“The difference with Daniel Andrews is yes, it’s a pandemic, but it’s also the infrastructure, particularly the health infrastructure.”
Former Victorian health minister Martin Foley, who led the portfolio during the Covid-19 pandemic, said while the decision was a “big shock” it was the right move.
“I don’t think anyone could have predicted the exact timing. It’s a big shock for the Victorian political system and the Australian political system,” he told ABC News Breakfast.
Who will lead?
Jacinta Allan is widely tipped to be anointed as Mr Andrews heir when Labor MPs meet at midday on Wednesday, but a battle is expected over who becomes deputy.
Ms Allan confirmed on Tuesday afternoon that she would nominate for the leadership.
Asked ahead of the caucus meeting if she had the support of her colleagues, she remained tight-lipped.
“There’s caucus meeting this morning, I’m looking forward to joining the caucus with my colleagues and letting the usual caucus process run its course,” she said on Wednesday morning.
If elected, Ms Allan would become Victoria’s first female premier in more than 30 years.
Mr Shorten described the current deputy premier as “a very highly successful accomplished woman leader in her own right.” but declined to say if he knew she had the ballot all tied up.
“She comes from the regions, she’s a very experienced politician, so I think she’ll make sure that all of Victoria has a Voice … But as I say, the Victorian Labor Party will work out who their next leader is in the next few days,” he said.
If the ballot is contested by more than one person, party rules mean it could take up to three days for the result to become official.
Victorian Liberal leader John Pesutto acknowledged the reshuffle would be a chance for a “reset” but noted whoever takes the wheel will still be one of Mr Andrews “copilots”.
“It is hard to see how things will change. I think there is, though, a sense of relief that the Premier is going, but I think that relief will be short-lived when the new leader emerges, whoever it is going to be, leading the same tired, corrupt party,” he told Nine.