Dan Andrews has been accused of being a hypocrite and an opportunist after he canceled the Australia Day parade in Melbourne and attended the Pride parade two weeks later.
The Victorian Prime Minister shared a photo of himself at the Midsumma Pride March on February 6 after scrapping the town’s beloved January 26 parade – which he said was due to overwhelming support from ‘stakeholders ” rather than a political decision.
“You are a disgraceful hypocrite and a shameless opportunist @DanAndrewsMP…as to equality you have afforded no such luxury to the vaccine hesitant,” tweeted former Queensland Premier Campbell Newman.
Dan Andrews shared a photo of himself walking in the Midsumma March on Sunday (pictured) sparking debate online
Australia Day festivities have become controversial in recent years with a push to ‘change the date’ in recognition of support for First Nations gatherings and Invasion Day.
Organizers of this year’s Invasion Day rally in Melbourne called off the march saying it would be ‘irresponsible to stage the event at the height of a pandemic’.
Government Andrews, however, said the Australia Day parade had not been canceled due to Covid-19 rules.
But rather than admit to taking a political stance on the issue, the parade was scrapped with little to no consultation with the public and a vague explanation.
Scrapped: Melbourne’s popular Australia Day parade (pictured in 2019) announced that a celebration of multicultural modern Australia was canceled two weeks ago with a vague explanation
In 2019, in the days before Melbourne suffered 262 strict blanket bans, thousands of people gathered in the streets to witness the colorful celebration of modern Australia, which included a large number of multicultural groups.
Mr Andrews captioned the photo of himself at the Midsumma march saying he missed last year’s event due to a fractured vertebra he suffered in a fall while on holiday.
“But this year I am back to walk with LGBTIQ+ Victorians – today and every day,” Mr Andrews said.
“Because in Victoria, equality is non-negotiable.
The comment, however, drew a mixed response, with many furiously pointing out that the Prime Minister’s definition of equality does not appear to apply to those who question lockdowns or vaccination mandates.
“The Australia Day Parade was canceled in Melbourne, but not the LGBTQIA+ Pride March which Prime Minister Andrews was attending. The rainbow flag must have magical anti-virus properties,’ said Sky News host Rita Panahi.
Around 8,000 Melburn residents lined the streets to watch the 2019 Australia Day Parade (pictured)
Mr Andrews extended Victoria’s pandemic declaration from three months earlier in January under his new Covid legal powers – allowing him to enact lockdown or restrictions at any time.
“We couldn’t celebrate Australia Day because we’re supposed to feel shame, guilt and no pride. I watched the Sydney celebrations and felt moved. Sad to witness the demise of the city we once loved,’ one person wrote on Twitter.
“Equality is great unless it’s vaccination status you can be excluded from everything,” another person added.
But many pointed out that there were big differences between the Midsumma march and Victoria’s anti-lockdown protests and Australia Day parade.
“At least all walkers are either double or triple vaxed,” one person said.
“It’s not a few weeks ago, the number of cases has dropped massively,” another person said.
While the number of cases is falling with Victoria recording 9,908 on Wednesday, some Covid restrictions are still firmly in place.
Throughout 2020 and 2021, as Melbourne endured the world’s longest lockdown, several protests were stopped by police – while against Covid restrictions the response was criticized as ‘brutal’ (pictured)
Opposition leader Matthew Guy said he would cooperate with police if they asked him to explain why he and his fellow coalition MPs were caught without masks inside the state parliament .
In snaps posted to social media, Mr Guy and his MPs were pictured with Essendon legend Kevin Sheedy not wearing masks inside Parliament on Tuesday, the first sitting day of the year.
The four-time VFL and AFL premiership coach gave an unpaid motivational speech in the Victorian Liberal Party Hall ahead of the 2022 state election in November.
The photos, which include Mr Guy, Liberal Upper House Leader David Davis and National MP Melina Bath, are being assessed by Victoria Police.
Wearing a mask is mandatory in all Victorian workplaces, including the state parliament, unless rising to speak in either chamber or eating or drinking.
Mr Guy said he had not yet been called by the police but would speak to them if contacted.
He claimed to have had coffee with him during the speech, as did several other MPs, while others took off their masks for photos.
“I’m not here to answer for every person in the room,” he told reporters on Wednesday.
“If the police issue fines, of course we will pay them.”
He is also willing to donate to charity if the police decide not to issue a fine.
Government Andrews has not said whether the Australia Day Parade (pictured) will return next year or not at all
An occupational health and safety memo from Victoria’s Parliament sent out on Tuesday reminded MPs and staff of “the continued requirement to wear masks in the workplace”.
Mr. Guy described the state’s current mask rules as “confusing” and wants the mandate to only apply in high-risk settings.
“Mask mandates in non-high risk environments should be a thing of the past. It’s time for all of us to move on,” he said.
Prime Minister Daniel Andrews was fined $400 in October last year after he was filmed arriving in Parliament without a mask on two occasions.
He wore a mask both days as he was driven to parliament, but took it off before crossing the car park to wait for the media.
At the time, Melbourne residents over the age of 12 had to wear a fitted face mask whenever they left their homes, inside or outside, unless there were legal exceptions.