Victorian Mental Health Minister, Martin Foley, is replacing Jenny Mikakos as Health Minister after she resigned from the position, following Premier Daniel Andrews’ testimony that she was “accountable” for the bungled hotel quarantine scheme.
Mr Foley will move into the role effective immediately, and will also take on the portfolios of Minister for Ambulance Services and Minister for the Coordination of Health and Human Services COVID-19.
The appointment announcement came on Sunday during a press conference with Andrews, where he commended Foley for the ‘tremendous care’ he has demonstrated for vulnerable members in the community.
“Throughout his ministerial career, Martin has already overseen vital reforms in mental health, housing and disability,” Andrews said.
“He has always demonstrated great care and compassion for the most vulnerable members of our community and I know he will do an outstanding job leading our health response to the global pandemic.”
This message has been supported by members of the Greek community last night, with President of the Greek Community of Melbourne, Bill Papastergiadis, telling The Greek Herald he is ‘delighted’ by the new appointment.
“The Greek community of Melbourne and South Melbourne FC are delighted in the appointment of Martin Foley as the new Minister of Health. Martin has been a strong supporter of the Greek community of which I am president of,” Mr Papastergiadis says.
“He attends all of our festivals, particularly The Antipodes Lonsdale St event, and is present at various functions held at our afternoon Greek schools, particularly in Albert Park.
“Importantly, Mr Foley is the No 1 ticket holder for South Melbourne FC. Mr Foley played an integral role in our bid for the A League. Mr Foley was present at numerous meetings we held with senior executives of the FFA such as Greg O’ Rourke.
“We thank the efforts of the previous Health Minister (Ms Mikakos) and we congratulate the appointment of Mr Foley.”
During a press conference, Mr Foley himself said he was looking forward to working with Victorians under “enormously difficult circumstances” to achieve a “COVID-normal reopening” in the state.
These statements came as just yesterday, the Greek community issued messages of thanks and support to former Health Minister Jenny Mikakos.
Member for Bentleigh, Nick Staikos, said he was “saddened” by the way Ms Mikakos’ career had ended.
“She is a person of integrity who has worked her guts out while carrying the extraordinary weight of an unprecedented health crisis on her shoulders,” Mr Staikos said.
Oakleigh MP, Steve Dimopoulos, added he was proud to call Mikakos a friend.
“Few people have worked as hard or have more passion for helping others. I’ve never seen a hint of personal ambition, just an ambition to do good. Proud to call you a friend, Jenny,” Mr Dimopoulos wrote on Twitter.
Victoria’s second wave resulted in more than 780 deaths and prompted weeks of strict lockdown measures for Melbourne. Jenny Mikakos is so far the only Victorian minister to resign as a result of the failed containment of the virus.
Further reshuffling of the Victorian Ministry is expected in the coming days.