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New Evidence The Premier Can’t Ignore

ByRobert Silverman

The Author

Robert Silverman is the pen name of a journalist and academic with extensive Australian and international experience in teaching, researching and writing on politics and history.

A secret Ambulance Victoria document just uncovered by the Herald-Sun has revealed that the Andrews’ car was travelling at 40-60 kph when it hit a teenage cyclist in 2013, contradicting the premier’s claims that the bicycle was travelling at speed and that it hit the car, not the other way around. First published online in January this year, the article below deals with the questionable circumstances (if not questioned by the mainstream media) surrounding both the car accident and the premier’s apparent fall in 2020 down a “flight of stairs” which turned out to be two wooden steps. With evidence building that Andrews has not told the truth, there is a clear need for a public enquiry.

The obsession with the Murdoch media on the ABC and elsewhere is a marvel to behold. The script is a rewrite of ‘Beauty and the Beast’. There is a ‘Beast’ – well, two of them to be exact, Rupert and Lachlan, sucking as much money as they can from their media kingdom – and there is a ‘Beauty’ in the independent and fearless ‘liberal’ media.

In fact, the ‘liberal’ media is only selectively liberal. It has chosen narratives and suppresses whatever gets in their way. Those who disagree are either shut out or abused. On important domestic and foreign policy issues, its misrepresentations run from the wars on Libya and Syria and the war in Ukraine to the stifling of anything affecting ‘vaccine hesitancy’ and its protection of the most destructive politician in Australia’s history, Daniel Andrews. 

In the past three years, his ‘policies’ resulted in unprecedented economic, social and health damage to the state. How much damage precisely, we don’t know because the ‘liberal’ media has made no attempt to find out. There has been the occasional mild rap on the knuckles, but otherwise, the same media outlets have covered for him while abusing his critics as antipodean Trumpists, right-wing libertarians and/or thugs, lunatic anti-vaxxers and tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracy theorists. Not even the most significant single outrage in Victorian or Australian history, the neglect and maladministration behind the death of hundreds of people in aged care homes in 2020, was enough for them to rear up and demand his resignation.

(Photo: Christopher Burgess)

So no surprise that both the Age and the ABC regarded recent revelations in the Melbourne Herald Sun that Andrews misrepresented both the collision between his car and a teenage cyclist in 2013 and the circumstances of the fall he had in 2020 as unworthy of their attention except to be sneered at.

The photo of the car published by the Herald Sun on November 8, 2022, showed that it was not ‘T-boned’ on the side as Andrews claimed. Instead, the point of collision was the front right-hand corner of the car, adjacent to the bonnet, almost directly in front of the driver.  This would explain why the boy was thrown into the windshield, which would not have been the case had the collision been squarely on the side. James Bowen, a former QC and senior prosecutor in Victoria and the ACT, said the evidence – the photo of the damaged car as published in the Herald-Sun – suggested the Andrews’ account of the accident might defy the “law of physics.” He described the police investigation as a “scandal” and said the accident needed to be investigated by another body. (“Inside the mysterious crash involving the Premier, his wife and a teenage cyclist,” Daily Mail, November 15).

The second scoop was a photo of the ‘flight of stairs’ that Andrews was said to have fallen in 2020. Had the media, including the Herald Sun, done its job at the time, these ‘stairs’ would have been photographed in 2020 so people could see the truth for themselves. 

The “stairs” turned out to be two low wooden steps leading from a verandah – described by Andrews as a “porch”- to the lawn about 25 centimeters below. Andrews said he slipped on the top step and fell back on the porch, not forward onto the lawn. According to his own account, he was so badly hurt that he could scarcely breathe or call out for help. When his wife came outside, he was turning blue. She thought he was going to die. The fracture of the T7 vertebrae along his spine caused his lung to collapse. The Shepherd medical centre says such a fracture usually causes paraplegia (paralysis of the body below the fracture). Presumably, Andrews could not move, yet when his security detail arrived he was not on the “porch” but on the lawn. How he got there has not been explained by Andrews or the media.

These two stories were great exposures by the Herald Sun. They put Andrews’ credibility further on a long line which since that time includes four IBAC investigations into corruption involving the premier and his twisting and turning to avoid responsibility at the Coate inquiry into the hotel quarantine shambles. The security company hiring was a decision no one apparently took, as Judge Coate sardonically remarked. Clearly, someone did make the decision, but she did not press the point, and neither did the ‘liberal’ media. So the premier and his shuffling band of ministers and bureaucrats who weren’t told/didn’t know were allowed to get away with it. 

The ABC and The Age ignored possible truths in the Herald Sun revelations, choosing instead to kill the story by killing the messenger, in this case, the Murdoch media. “When did this crash happen?” Paul Barry asked on the ABC’s Media Watch. “Last week? Last month? No, almost a decade ago? Was he [Andrews] behind the wheel? No, again. His wife Catherine was driving. And was she driving recklessly? Did she break any road rules? Was she at fault? No, no and no, at least according to police who investigated the crash and did not press charges.” 

The time lapse between the collision and Ryan Meuleman’s statement – Ryan “spruiking” his story in Barry’s putdown – is irrelevant. The damage to the car had never been seen before, so it was news by normal journalistic standards.  The Meuleman statement and the photo of the vehicle both raise questions about Andrews’ credibility and integrity, as necessary now as they were then. 

Barry’s assumption that Catherine Andrews was the driver of the car is based on what she and her husband told the police. She may well have been, but there is no sign of a police search for independent evidence that she was seen at the wheel on the road or when they left the beach. Husband and wife said they were “on their way back from the beach” at Sorrento but were they on the sand or in the yacht club enjoying lunch before they left? Had they been drinking? We don’t know as Catherine Andrews was not even breath-tested, a mandatory requirement at the scene of an accident. Without even a breath test of the driver, there could not have been a proper investigation of the accident, as claimed by Paul Barry.

Andrews called 000 before leaving to take his traumatised children home, apparently in a now unroadworthy car driven away from the scene of a serious accident, which if properly investigated, could have led to the prosecution of the driver. The “liberal” media made no investigation of its own, only relying on what Andrews and his wife told it. Not even the Herald Sun followed through.

Having disposed of the car accident, Barry moves on to the Herald Sun’s “Steps that took down a premier” or the “stairs”, as he incorrectly calls them. Even based on his version of events, Andrews allowed the media to run the “flight of stairs” line for months without once putting out a statement pointing out that there were no “stairs”, only two low wooden steps. Clearly, the “flight of stairs” with himself tumbling from top to bottom, is what he wanted people to believe. A “flight of stairs” made his severe injuries far more believable than two wooden steps. 

The improbability of the circumstances naturally feeds the alternative account of what is said to have happened. However, this was never investigated by the ‘liberal’ media either. 

No reporters were sent to Sorrento to snoop around in search of the truth, or to photograph the ‘stairs’ at the Andrews holiday house and talk to neighbours at the address central to the alternative account.  Instead, the media ran handouts from the premier’s office, as it had done in 2013. No proper reporting at all – yet Barry had the brass to conclude, “I have seen some rubbish in my time, but the Herald Sun takes the cake.” 

Barry’s defence of Andrews was matched by Denis Muller’s articles in the Age and The Conversation. Muller is an honorary senior research fellow at the University of Melbourne’s Centre for Advancing Journalism. The taglines introduce him as a journalist with considerable experience in Australia and overseas. Neither the Age nor The Conversation pointed out the rest of his background, as promoted on the website of his company, Denis Muller, and Associates. Muller has held senior management positions in the Victorian public service and has given workshops on the principles and practices of what he thinks is good writing. His clients include the Department of Premier and Cabinet. If this were in Andrews’ time, there would be a conflict of interest between working for his department and defending him in print as a journalist.  

Worth mentioning here is that when columnist Jon Faine was cheerleading for Andrews during lockdowns and mandatory vaccination, the Age did not mention that the government had hired him to run propaganda for his health policies. Only tardily did it refer to Faine’s role as a “paid state government contractor” and the “major public health campaign he produced and directed on behalf of the state government.”

Muller handles the Herald Sun’s scoops by writing about something else. The real story is about what happened at Sorrento/Blairgowrie in 2013 and 2020, not Muller’s condemnation of those sons of bitches, Rupert Murdoch and his son Lachlan, for ganging up on Andrews yet again. The headline in The Conversation makes the rest of his November 6 article almost unnecessary except for those who wallow hippo-like in anti-Murdoch loathing: “Attacks on Dan Andrews are part of News Corporation’s long abuse of power.”

Throughout the pandemic, writes Muller, News Corporation engaged in “increasingly shrill criticism of the Andrews lockdown.” Shrilly expressed or otherwise, thousands of Victorians who might loathe the Murdoch media as much as Denis Muller were incensed by Andrews’ lockdowns, along with his bullying and abuse.  

Muller dismisses the interview with Ryan Meuleman, the boy knocked off his bike by Andrews’ car, as something that was “nine years old” and thus apparently not worth considering for that reason, irrespective of how negatively it might reflect on the credibility of the man who is now Victoria’s premier. 

Muller writes off Meuleman’s account as “long on innuendo and short on facts,” even though it was largely backed up by a witness soon on the scene. The car had only travelled 25 metres from the intersection when it collided with the bike. Catherine Andrews says the car stopped before it made the turn, but the severity of Ryan Meuleman’s injuries suggests the driver must have accelerated fairly hard before the car and the bike collided. Slowly driven, the car would have knocked Ryan off his bike, but surely he would not have been so badly hurt. Andrews claimed the bike was moving “at speed,” Ryan Meuleman says he had paused the bike before crossing the road and that it was the Andrews’ car that was speeding. 

The photo of the car is undoubtedly evidence of questionable facts in the Andrews’ version. Andrews claims they helped the boy. However, Ryan Meuleman says he and his wife were arguing and gazed down on him as he lay on the road before driving off. In such conflicted circumstances, why would an outsider assume one party’s version was correct and the other wrong? But Muller clearly does.

Furthermore, he is reading from the same page as Barry when he refers to the “conspiracy theory” over Andrews slipping on “some outside stairs”. To recap the crucial facts bearing on these two episodes, there were no stairs, only two low wooden steps, and the car was damaged almost at the front, not “t-boned” on the side as Andrews claimed. His insistence that the boy caused the accident even as he lay in the hospital badly injured and unable to speak for himself was shameless. There are real stories. The time gap is irrelevant. Without independently investigating what might be the truth, the ‘liberal’ media cannot know what happened at Blairgowrie/Sorrento in 2013 and 2020, yet reflexively it sprang to Andrews’ defence. 

The last three years of the Andrews premiership years were the worst in Victorian history, not because of the pandemic but because of how Andrews used it to terrorise the people and consolidate his personal power over the state. The ‘liberal’ media enabled him at every turn, as they simultaneously did over the virus and vaccination, telling people what they wanted them to know, not what they needed to know, including the full range of post-vaccination ‘adverse consequences.’

Not even rubber bullets fired at protestors by an anti-terrorist squad in the CBD and – as mentioned – the hundreds of dead in aged care residences were sufficient to bring the ‘liberal’ media to its feet in outrage. One does not have to like News Corporation to be able to distinguish between the media and the message. One can loathe its right-wing world but still have the honesty to acknowledge truths when they seem to be there. The Victorian election results were shocking – the Liberal Party has been blamed; there is merit in this. The party refused to stand up to Andrews when it should have, but there also seems to be a deep psychological aspect to this that has little or nothing to do with mundane daily politics.   

A colourful ABC Australian Broadcast Commission logo in Melbourne.
(Photo: Matt Leane)

The “liberal” media led by the Age and the ABC – and Victorians who accommodated all Andrews’ iniquities put him back in power. As to why the evidence suggests sustained brainwashing and indoctrination worthy of any authoritarian state. The tools were threats, intimidation and bullying maintained by daily panic headlines in the media. Frightened out of their wits, the people did what they were told without asking questions. 

The “Stockholm syndrome” soon kicked in. Victorians grew to understand why they had to be tied to a chair and were grateful when their bonds were loosened. They identified with their captor, joining in the government’s abuse of the non-vaccinated and non-compliant and remaining indifferent to the suffering of others as long as their own property and money were protected. 

They even turned themselves into the snitches and dobbers that are essential to every police state, clogging up police “assistance” lines by informing on those not wearing masks, not observing social distancing, and walking or driving further from home than allowed. So much for “community.” To hold Andrews responsible now would be to expose their own complicity. Instead, they doubled down and put him back in power.



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