Daniel Andrews has resigned as Premier of Victoria, effective from 5pm tomorrow.
The state Labor leader called a press conference this afternoon to announce his resignation, saying: “It is not an easy decision…but when it’s time it’s time.”
The decision came as a surprise after Andrews had insisted he would see out this third term of government around the time of the state elections in November last year. When questioned about this pledge at this afternoon’s press conference, he said “that was true then and I’ve changed my mind”.
The next Victorian Premier will be chosen by the Labor party tomorrow at a midday caucus meeting. Jacinta Allan, Victoria’s deputy premier, has confirmed she will be running to replace Andrews.
Congratulations Premier. An unparalleled legacy that has changed our state forever & for the better.
Thank you for your leadership & your friendship.
I will be putting myself forward to lead our party & continue the extraordinary work of our Labor government.
— Jacinta Allan (@JacintaAllanMP) September 26, 2023
Andrews has been Premier for nine years since 2014, and led Labor to three consecutive election victories.
“The only way I know how to do this job is to have it consume me, to have it define me… and that takes a toll,” he said this afternoon.
The sentiment echoed former Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan’s own resignation speech in late May, when he said the role “comes with huge responsibility that is all-consuming, each and every day”. McGowan’s resignation, like Andrews’ was a surprise announcement at a press conference held with only 45 minutes’ notice. And, like McGowan, who cleared his desk within a week, Andrews plans a hasty departure and will be gone in little over 24 hours after his announcement.
“You never want to get to a place where you resent this job – this amazing privilege and opportunity,” Andrews said.
“Public life is about subjecting yourself to the judgement of others, and it will be for others to judge my time in Parliament and my years of leadership.”
Andrews’ leadership was placed under intense scrutiny during the COVID-19 pandemic when he oversaw Australia’s longest lockdown, also the second longest in the world after Buenos Aires in Argentina, earning him the label of “Dictator Dan” from conservative media.
He stood up each and every day during the pandemic… for doing what he believed was absolutely right to keep Victorians safe.
The state government continues to pay for pandemic spending, and is the most indebted state because of it. The 2023 Victoria state budget saw new taxes on big businesses and cuts to the public sector in an attempt to repay $31.5 billion worth of emergency loans.
Budget cuts also saw Andrews cancelling the 2026 Commonwealth Games in July, as cost estimates of hosting the Games in Victoria grew to a purported $7 billion. The state government and the CWG agreed on a $380 million settlement to compensate the cancellation, coming from taxpayers money.
The cancellation has led to an ongoing federal senate inquiry, with an interim report on the state’s readiness to host Commonwealth, Olympic and Paralympic games stating the State’s reputation had been damaged by Andrews’ decision.
“Victoria’s international reputation has been called into question,” the report said.
However, in his tribute to Andrews, PM Anthony Albanese referred to him as a “person of deep conviction”, and made special mention of how he led Victoria through COVID-19.
“He stood up each and every day during the pandemic… for doing what he believed was absolutely right to keep Victorians safe,” Albanese said.
Daniel Andrews is a person of deep conviction, great compassion and fierce determination and he brought all those qualities to his time as Premier of Victoria. pic.twitter.com/ilm1GXCcCy
— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) September 26, 2023
“I’m sure that Daniel Andrews will continue to make a contribution in whatever field he sees fit in the future.”
Andrews highlighted Victoria’s Housing Statement, released last Wednesday, as a significant part of his legacy.
“I know that the Housing Statement… will guarantee that Victorians across the state have somewhere to call home.”
The statement outlines an ambitious 10-year plan for the state to make renting and buying more affordable and accessible.
Andrews also thanked his family for their continued support throughout his career, saying: “For all that this has meant, thank you, you are everything to me.”