The Victorian Opposition is calling for Deputy Chief Health Officer Annaliese van Diemen to resign over her comments comparing the “terror” of COVID-19 to Captain Cook’s arrival in Australia.
The Victorian Opposition is calling for the Deputy Chief Health Officer to resign over her comments comparing COVID-19 to Captain Cook’s arrival in Australia.
“Sudden arrival of an invader from another land, decimating populations, creating terror,” Annaliese van Diemen said on Twitter.
“Forces the population to make enormous sacrifices & completely change how they live in order to survive. COVID19 or Cook 1770?”
Opposition Health Spokeswoman Georgie Crozier said Dr van Diemen’s comments were “highly inappropriate at a time when Victoria remains in a State of Emergency”.
“She should resign,” Ms Crozier said.
The comments prompted anger from Liberal frontbencher Tim Smith, who received criticism from some within his party last week after he lashed out at Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton on Twitter.
“What’s with the culture wars crap from a state health bureaucrat at a time like this?” he wrote.
“Comparing the extraordinary first voyage of Captain Cook where he charted the East Coast of [Australia] for the first time to a deadly virus is disgraceful. You’ve lost the plot.”
Former Liberal leader Matthew Guy quickly joined in, describing Dr van Diemen as “a complete fruitcake”.
The comments come just a week after Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien told Mr Smith and Mr Guy to tone down their criticism of Dr Sutton.
But this afternoon Mr O’Brien joined the fray, saying the tweet was embarrassing and inappropriate.
“Daniel Andrews’ Deputy Chief Health Officer should be working on giving Victorians a pathway out of Labor’s lockdown, not giving us woke political commentary on Twitter,” Mr O’Brien said in a statement.
“No wonder many Victorians are questioning why our lockdown has no end in sight; the Government is too busy playing politics on Twitter.”
The ABC has contacted the State Government and the Department of Health and Human Services for comment.