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Andrews back at work, takes aim at 'vile' rumours surrounding his absence


Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has attacked his political opponents for spreading “vile” rumours about the nature of his fall on his first day back in the top job.

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Andrews held his return press conference at the site of one of his government’s signature infrastructure projects, the Metro Tunnel.

Sporting a hard hat and hi-vis vest, he began by asking reporters if they were “right to go” – a nod to the 120 consecutive daily press conferences he held during the state’s second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Andrews thanked Deputy Premier James Merlino for leading the state during his leave, his family, medical staff and colleagues, as well as the many Victorians who sent well wishes as he recovered.

“I am fit, I am back and make no mistake, we’re here to get this done,” he told reporters on Monday.

Andrews fractured his spine and broke several ribs when he slipped and fell while getting ready for work in the Mornington Peninsula on March 9.

In his absence, various unfounded rumours circulated online and were fuelled by Shadow Treasurer Louise Staley when she called on Andrews to answer 12 questions about his injury.

Asked why he didn’t address the rumours surrounding his fall earlier, Andrews replied: “Never get into an argument with a fool”.

“People who make up their own facts, you’re best not really to get into an argument with them. It’s very difficult to win those arguments,” he said.

Andrews refused to mention Ms Staley by name but slammed the opposition for turning the rumours “into a political weapon”.

“It is very, very hurtful when kids are being taunted at school. It is very hurtful when you see some of this stuff printed,” he said.

“For people to try and turn that into a political weapon, well, I reckon they’ll be judged harshly for that and I reckon they should be. But that’s about the extent of the time I spend wasted thinking about people like that.”

Mr Andrews said he was on a family weekend at a Sorrento holiday rental, which was rented through a private agency and paid for at his own expense.

He said he did not socialise with anyone outside of his family and did not have a late night before the accident.

Andrews and wife Catherine on Sunday released a video on social media explaining how he slipped and fell.

“As I put my foot on to the first step. I knew I was in trouble. I didn’t really connect with the step it just slid straight off, I became airborne almost,” Mr Andrews said in the four-minute video.

“Then all I can hear is just this almighty crunch.

“When I heard the crunch, I knew. I thought this is serious, we’re in trouble here.”

Andrews said he couldn’t call out to his wife because he couldn’t breathe. She found him moments later.

“It was awful because you were going blue, and we were looking at each other and I was thinking, you are going to die,” Ms Andrews said in the video.

“You’re looking at me and you felt the same.”

X-rays revealed Andrews sustained an acute compression fracture of the T7 vertebra and broke several ribs, which caused the lower section of his lungs to collapse.

Andrews said he avoided permanent, life-changing spinal cord damage by “1mm”.

His spine has now healed but it will take another three months for his ribs to do so.

The premier said he is no longer on strong painkillers and has been taking daily walks and doing physiotherapy and personal training as part of his recovery.




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