In a scathing statement posted on Twitter, Mikakos said she “totally disagrees[d]With comments from Andrews during an investigation into the state’s hotel quarantine program, but felt she had no choice but to resign.
“I never wanted to leave a job unfinished, but in light of the Prime Minister’s statement to the commission of inquiry and the fact that it contains elements with which I strongly disagree, I believe that I do not can’t continue to serve in her cabinet, ”she wrote in a one-page statement.
“I am disappointed that my integrity has sought to be compromised.”Speaking to the media on Saturday afternoon, Andrews announced that Martin Foley, Minister for Mental Health, Creative Industries and Equality, would replace Mikakos. He thanked Mikakos for her “dedicated service” but said that while he had not asked for her resignation it was “the proper course of action for her”.
“I think Jenny made the right choice, but she made the choice,” he said.
“I did not speak to the minister before she resigned. She texted me. It was simply to inform me that a letter [of resignation] had been sent. I did not speak to him and I have not spoken to him since.
But Andrews declined to answer questions about why he thought it appropriate for the state’s health minister to step down, saying he would wait until the findings of the quarantine investigation of the hotel be returned before commenting.
“My judgment on this issue does not change the outcome,” he said.
“Whether I think it’s appropriate or not, she resigned. She quit this morning, and I think that’s the way to go.
Mikakos’ resignation is the Victorian government’s first major skull after the state’s Second Wave Covid-19 outbreak, and comes just a day after Andrews blamed the minister for her role in the failed ploy.
Appearing before the inquest on Friday, Andrews questioned Mikakos’ previous evidence that she only learned of the existence of private security in May. Instead, the prime minister said he “saw her as responsible” for the program from April.
“The CCC (Crisis Council of Cabinet) has received regular reports from Minister Mikakos containing data relevant to Victoria’s response to the public health emergency,” he said.
But in her statement, Mikakos said she was “eager” to learn who was in charge of the program for months, and was “shocked” after receiving a genomic sequencing report in June that confirmed the link between the program quarantine from the hotel and the second wave.
“To say that I was shocked would be an understatement,” Mikakos said.
“As I said to the commission of inquiry, I take responsibility for my department, the responsibility lies with me.”
On Saturday, Andrews was asked about the difference in interpretation, and asked why he had not indicated that he believed Mikakos was in charge of the program when asked before testifying at the inquest.
“She’s the one who refers to the differences and her statement is her statement,” Andrews said.
“She made a comment. I am not in a position to speculate on what she is referring to.
In his statement, Mikakos admitted that in hindsight there were issues his department should have informed him about.
“I have never shirked my responsibility for my department, but it is not my only responsibility,” she said.
“I am deeply sorry for the situation in which the Victorians find themselves. In all good conscience, I don’t believe my actions led to it. ”
A number of Victorian-era Labor MPs have expressed support for Mikakos after her resignation, including Nick Staikos, MP for Bentleigh and Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, who said he was saddened that the minister’s career “came to an end. in this way”.
“He is a person of integrity who worked hard while carrying the extraordinary weight of an unprecedented health crisis on his shoulders. I only wish him the best post-politics, ”he wrote.
Oakleigh MP Steve Dimopoulos said Mikakos has been “a wonderful servant to our community”.
“For 21 years in parliament, but long before, Jenny has been a tremendous servant to our community,” he wrote on Twitter.
“Few people have worked this hard or have more passion for helping others. I’ve never seen a hint of personal ambition, just an ambition to do good. I am proud to call you a friend, Jenny.
Following the release of her statement on Saturday, NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard posted a statement on Twitter saying he was “sorry” to see her step down saying she had ” worked tirelessly in this pandemic ”.
Hazzard also questioned Andrews’ evidence at the inquest, saying it “lacks logic”.
“Premier Andrews’ assertion that the Minister of Health was responsible for the quarantine system lacks logic,” he said.
“How could a Minister of Health ask the police to get involved?”
But the Victoria Healthcare Workers Union has welcomed his resignation.
“We hope to engage with a new Minister of Health to end bizarre decisions to outsource public hospital cleaners and other non-clinical workers during a pandemic and replace them with questionable outsourcing companies The union said.
Victoria’s second wave claimed more than 780 lives and prompted weeks of strict lockdowns in Melbourne.
Mikakos’ comments follow her appearance at the hotel’s quarantine inquiry on Thursday, where she said she was “very disappointed” that the issues identified with the program at the start were not brought to her attention.
Mikakos said she was unaware that Public Health Commander Finn Romanes wrote to Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kym Peake on April 9, warning of a “risk to health and prisoner safety ”due to governance issues.
The letter was seconded by Health Director Brett Sutton and his assistant Annaliese van Diemen.
Peake also failed to inform Mikakos of two Safer Care Victoria reports, which identified issues with the hotels quarantine program.
Mikakos also intends to resign from parliament.