Leader of the Australian state of Victoria, known for COVID lockdowns, resigns

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Daniel Andrews, the premier of Australia’s Victoria state who oversaw one of the world’s longest pandemic lockdowns, said on Tuesday he would step down after about nine years in office.

Andrews’ surprise resignation comes nearly a year after he led the center-left Labor Party to a third straight victory in November elections in Australia’s second-most populous state. He said the job “consumed and defined” him.

“It is not an easy task to be the Prime Minister of our state. That’s not a complaint, it’s just a fact,” Andrews said at a televised media conference.

“It requires 100% of you and your family. Of course this is temporary and now is the time to step down,” he said. “To some degree, every waking moment is about work, and that takes its toll.”

Andrews is Victoria’s longest-serving Labor premier and his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has been criticized by some residents over the stop-start lockdowns that shut down the state capital Melbourne for a total of 262 days.

He said Labor MPs, currently in power in the federal government, would elect his successor on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Renju Jose in Sydney; Editing by Miral Fahmy)

Copyright 2023 Thomson Reuters.

Brian Ashcraft

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