Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews’ masterstroke leaves him flying solo

While they all have plausible reasons for leaving (Merlino said candidly he didn’t “have the fuel in the tank for another term”), it won’t be hard for Opposition Leader Matthew Guy to criticise the government as a revolving door. Though the premier is unlikely to be too worried: the Coalition is still a long way behind in the polls, according to The Age’s latest Resolve Political Monitor survey.

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While the nightmares of COVID lockdown are receding into the dim, dark past, few have yet forgotten the central role Andrews played in the government’s response, famously fronting up to his daily press conference for 120 days straight after Victoria was locked down.

While it won him enormous visibility at the time, the risk he faces now, says Paul Strangio, a professor of politics at Monash University, is overkill. He may “have worn out his welcome with the public. They will hanker for life after Andrews.” Call it the Churchill effect: postwar, the British public wanted change, to the extent they were prepared to boot out arguably their greatest leader of the 20th century.

It’s unlikely Andrews will want to remind us too much of the COVID years; although many of the calls he made were necessary, there were mistakes too. But while the days of the daily COVID press conference are over, the government’s prospects are largely reliant on Andrews’ ability to communicate. And in an election year with barely a handful of familiar faces left in the cabinet, what he says and does carries more weight than ever.

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