A motion of no-confidence against Premier Daniel Andrews will be debated in the Victorian parliament this week.
It comes after the Premier’s right hand man Chris Eccles resigned effective immediately on Monday morning – hours after phone records revealed the former Secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet had spoken to former Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton for two minutes during a crucial six-minute window.
It’s the same six-minute window being probed by the hotel quarantine inquiry, believed to hold crucial details about who made the decision to hire private security guards.
Opposition leader Michael O’Brien will move the no-confidence motion against the Premier, citing government “failures, cover-ups and lies” amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr O’Brien said Daniel Andrews had “thrown a second senior member of his team under the bus” following the resignation of Chris Eccles on Monday morning.
“One thing is certain – when Andrews is under pressure he’ll throw those close to him under a bus to try to save himself,” he said.
“While phone records prove Eccles called then Chief Commissioner of Police Graham Ashton, it does not answer the question every Victorian deserves to know the answer to: who made the decision to refuse ADF support in hotel quarantine and instead use untrained private security, which created Victoria’s second wave?”
With Labor holding a commanding 11-seat majority in the house, the no-confidence motion will almost definitely be voted down.
But Mr O’Brien challenged Labor MPs to “show who they stand with”.
“Every single Labor MP will have an opportunity this week … Daniel Andrews or the Victorian people they were elected to represent,” he said.
Mr Andrews fronted the media two hours after Mr Eccles’ resignation and said it was “very sad” his 35 years of public service had ended in the way it had.
“I believe that he has made the right choice,” the Premier said.
“He made a decision that his position was untenable.”
In a statement released earlier on Monday, Mr Andrews acknowledged Mr Eccles’ decades of public service across governments in three states and the Commonwealth.
“(I) thank him for the significant contribution he has made to Victoria. I wish him all the very best,” he said.
“Until last night, I had understood that Mr Eccles did not know if he had telephoned Mr Ashton at that time. That matter is now beyond doubt.
“Mr Eccles made a pretty binary statement and it turned out that was not the case and as soon as he became aware of that I think he’s done the right thing.”
At Monday’s press conference, the Premier was yet again questioned if he had any knowledge of who made the decision to refuse Australian Defence Force personnel and hire private security guards to oversee hotel quarantine instead.
Mr Andrews said he did not know.