Victoria’s health minister says she won’t be distracted by the release of a video showing her Zorba dancing alongside parliamentary colleagues in Bali while bushfires in the state escalated.
Footage emerged on Tuesday of Health Minister Jenny Mikakos and backbench Labor MPs Nick Staikos, Steve Dimopolous and Jackson Taylor dancing at a Bali venue on December 28.
Bushfires prompted an evacuation of the state’s East Gippsland region the following day.
The MPs returned from their privately-funded Bali holiday on January 2, ahead of Victoria declaring a state of disaster for much of the east of the state that evening.
Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien said the health minister should have been home after East Gippsland evacuations began.
“We had massive pressure on our country hospitals, we had people being injured…The health minister should have been on deck,” he told reporters on Tuesday.
Ms Mikakos says she returned as soon as she could – having tried unsuccessfully to get an earlier flight from December 29 – not because she had to, but because she wanted to.
“I am not going to be distracted by this,” she told reporters.
“I have been busy visiting bushfire-affected communities, including health services that were on the front line during the fires”
She stressed there is no issue with her having taken a holiday or enjoying a dance, with the video showing her and her colleagues doing the Greek Zorba.
“It is important that ministers have the opportunity to take some leave and to refresh, so we can refresh for the year and the big job that we have, that we take very seriously,” she said.
“The fact that I do enjoy a Zorba would be no surprise to anybody.”
Premier Daniel Andrews said it was appropriate ministers have some leave.
“I’m happy to stand beside an outstanding health minister. This is not a story,” he told reporters, standing alongside Ms Mikakos.
Fellow holiday-maker Mr Staikos also dismissed the significance of the story.
“The biggest revelation is that I’m a bad dancer, and I’m just glad that they didn’t get footage of Footloose,” he told reporters.
Mr Dimopolous said he had been behaving how he would around friends. Video shows him having liquid from a bottle being poured into his open mouth.
“It was a personal holiday with friends, and I felt very comfortable and safe with friends.”
Sourced by: Australian Associated Press