National News

Vic health minister quits over COVID blame

Victoria's health minister has quit her portfolio as the fallout from the state's COVID-19 hotel quarantine scheme continues.

Jenny Mikakos on Saturday issued a statement confirming her move, just a day after Premier Daniel Andrews gave evidence to an inquiry and pointed partial blame at the minister for her role in the bungled scheme, which led to the state's deadly second wave of infections.

"I have never wanted to leave a job unfinished but in light of the premier's statement to the board of inquiry and the fact that there are elements in it that I strongly disagree with, I believe that I cannot continue to serve in his cabinet," she wrote in a one-page statement.

"I am disappointed that my integrity has sought to be undermined."

She said when the case numbers in Melbourne started to rise again in June, she sought an explanation and on June 30 received a briefing on a genomic sequencing report.

The report confirmed the link between the hotel quarantine program and Victoria's second wave.

"To say that I was shocked would be a massive understatement," Ms Mikakos said.

"As I said to the board of inquiry, I take responsibility for my department, the buck stops with me."

However, Ms Mikakos said that with the benefit of hindsight there were matters her department should have briefed her on.

"I have never shirked my responsibility for my department but it is not my responsibility alone," she said.

"I am deeply sorry for the situation Victorians find themselves in. In good conscience, I do not believe that my actions led to them."

Victoria's second wave has resulted in more than 780 deaths and prompted weeks of strict lockdown measures for Melbourne.

Ms Mikakos' comments follow her appearance at the hotel quarantine inquiry on Thursday, where she said she was "very disappointed" problems identified with the program early on were not raised with her.

Ms Mikakos said she did not know Public Health Commander Finn Romanes had written to Department of Health and Human Services secretary Kym Peake on April 9, warning of a "risk to the health and safety of detainees" due to governance issues.

The letter was backed by chief health officer Brett Sutton and his deputy Annaliese van Diemen.

Ms Peake also failed to brief Ms Mikakos on two Safer Care Victoria reports, which identified problems with the hotel quarantine program.

Ms Mikakos also intends to resign from parliament.

Deputy opposition leader Georgie Crozier said Ms Mikakos' exit was overdue and the premier also ought to resign.

"He can't think by Mikakos going all is fine," she tweeted.

Influential crossbench MP Fiona Patten released a statement saying she had known Ms Mikakos for 20 years and had been grateful for being given a fair hearing despite their differences.

"It has been an extraordinary time for us all but especially so if you are the health minister," Ms Patten said.

"Jenny has carried herself remarkably well during these difficult times."

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard said he was sorry to see Ms Mikakos resign and she had worked "tirelessly" through the pandemic.

"Premier Andrews' assertion that the Health Minister was responsible for the Quarantine system lacks logic," he tweeted.

"How could a health minister direct police to be involved?"

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Saturday he would not get involved in recriminations following the hotel quarantine inquiry.

"I don't think it helps, my commentary on those matters," he said.

© AAP 2020