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Jenny Mikakos
Jenny Mikakos 2018.jpg
Mikakos in 2018
Minister for Health
Minister for Ambulance Services
In office
29 November 2018 – 26 September 2020
PremierDaniel Andrews
Preceded byJill Hennessy
Succeeded byMartin Foley
Member of the Victorian Legislative Council for Jika Jika Province
In office
18 September 1999 – November 2006
Member of the Victorian Legislative Council for Northern Metropolitan Region
In office
November 2006 – 26 September 2020
Succeeded bySheena Watt
Personal details
Born (1969-01-25) 25 January 1969 (age 52)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Political partyLabor Party
Alma materUniversity of Melbourne
ProfessionTax lawyer

Jenny Mikakos (born 25 January 1969) is a former Australian politician for the Labor Party who was a Member of the Legislative Council of Victoria from 1999 to 2020. She served as the Minister for Health, Minister for Ambulance Services and Minister for the Coordination of Health and Human Services COVID-19 as well as Deputy Leader of the Government,[1] but resigned these positions and from parliament on 26 September 2020 in the wake of criticism of her role in hotel quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic.[2][3]

Political career

Mikakos in 2006
Mikakos in 2006

Mikakos was first elected as the Member for Jika Jika Province in the State of Victoria in September 1999.[1] From 1999 until 2006, she represented the Legislative Council province of Jika Jika.[1] Mikakos' electorate was abolished at the 2006 election as part of major reforms of the Legislative Council introduced after the 2002 election, but she won the second position on the Labor ticket for the replacement electorate, the larger, five-member Northern Metropolitan Region. She was first on the Labor ticket at the 2010, 2014 and 2018 elections.

In Parliament, Mikakos held the roles of Parliamentary Secretary for Justice, Parliamentary Secretary for Planning, Shadow Minister for Community Services, Children, Youth Affairs, Youth Justice and Seniors and Ageing, Minister for Families and Children, Early Childhood Education and Youth Affairs, and Minister for Health and Ambulance Services.

In March 2020, she was appointed Deputy Leader of the Government in the Legislative Council.[4]

In April 2020, Mikakos was appointed as the Minister for the Coordination of Health and Human Services COVID-19 as part of the Victorian Government's response to the coronavirus global pandemic. This appointment followed media coverage of comments which Mikakos made regarding a GP who tested positive for COVID-19 (see Controversies below).[5]

In Parliament, Mikakos voted against the human cloning bill but for stem cell research, for abortion decriminalisation, for assisted reproductive technology reforms and for dying with dignity laws. These bills were subject to conscience votes in the Labor Party.[citation needed]

Mikakos is a member of Labor's left faction.[6]

Mikakos resigned as Minister for Health and from the Legislative Council on 26 September 2020.[7][3]


Misuse of taxpayer funds

In 2003, Mikakos was criticised for nepotism after employing her sister Nikki in her taxpayer-funded electoral office.[8]

In 2005, Mikakos was forced to pay back taxpayer funds spent mailing Labor Party members on Parliamentary stationery for reelection support, which led to Premier Steve Bracks warning Labor MPs regarding the conduct.[9]

In 2014, Mikakos was again involved in applying taxpayer funds for political purposes, and the Victorian Ombudsman found that Mikakos was among a number of Labor MPs who had misused $388,000 in taxpayer funds for election campaigning.[10] Mikakos declined to be interviewed by police in connection with the affair, which became known as the "red shirts rort".[11] The Labor party later repaid the amount.[12]

Youth justice

In 2016, a number of criminals under the age of 18 in custody at Parkville prison engaged in a violent riot and caused significant property damage, forcing staff to flee. Mikakos, then the Minister for Youth Affairs, was criticised for losing control of youth justice.[13] Later, Mikakos illegally moved the relevant inmates to an adult prison, and was forced to reverse that decision by the Supreme Court of Victoria.[14]

Remarks in Parliament

In 2018, Mikakos was suspended from Parliament for a day after accusing Liberal MPs of racism. Suspension involves forfeiture of the member's salary for the day.[15]

Handling of the COVID-19 pandemic

Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Mikakos was criticised for attacking a Melbourne GP who attended work after travelling to the United States.[5] The Minister stated that she was 'flabbergasted' a doctor with 'flu-like symptoms' had presented to work, despite the GP not meeting her own departmental guidelines for testing.[16] The Minister was criticised for inaccuracies, violating patient privacy and maligning frontline health workers,[17][5] but refused to apologise.[18]

Later, in April 2020, Mikakos was involved in controversy when she defended a comparison between COVID-19 and Captain Cook.[19]

In June 2020, a breakdown in hotel quarantine procedures created a second wave of COVID-19 cases in Victoria, leading to the first total lockdown of residents in homes in Australia,[20] panic buying,[21] and military personnel called in.[22][23] The resurgence occurred despite a report from experts a month earlier warning of an opportunity to prevent a further outbreak; Mikakos claimed she was unsure whether her government had received a copy of the report[24] and attempted to distance herself from the scandal.[25] In August 2020, Mikakos was stripped of responsibility for hotel quarantine.[26]

In August 2020, Mikakos was criticised for providing inadequate and insufficient PPE to hospital staff. Mikakos claimed that only 10-15% of healthcare workers with COVID-19 became infected through their workplace, and the government was later forced to correct that figure to 70-80%.[27][28]

Beginning in March 2020, Mikakos resisted calls to resign for her handling of the pandemic, including from the medical profession, the opposition, and the disgraced Health Workers Union (which changed its name from a branch of the Health Services Union following scandals).[29][30][31][32] In August 2020, Mikakos was criticised for declining to answer questions in Parliament and for failing to meet Parliamentary deadlines to provide promised written responses to questions.[33] She stated that she was declining to answer questions relating to the breakdown of hotel quarantine until a result came out of the independent inquiry led by former Justice Jennifer Coate.[citation needed] Justice Coate announced that the inquiry did not prevent any person from commenting publicly or answering questions on the matters covered by the inquiry.[34] Under the convention of individual ministerial responsibility in the Westminster system, Ministers are expected to be accountable to Parliament, including by answering questions, and to resign for major failures in their department regardless of whether they were aware of them.

On 24 September 2020, Mikakos appeared before the board of inquiry into the hotel quarantine program, where she stated that she had not made the decision to use private security contractors to manage the quarantine program, and had not been aware of the arrangement until an outbreak at a Melbourne hotel became apparent in mid-May. Footage emerged of Mikakos at a media briefing on 29 March with jobs minister Martin Pakula as he announced that security guards would be used to patrol hotels, and media also reported that the premier's office had sent a briefing note to caucus outlining this arrangement. Mikakos tendered a supplementary statement on 25 September, denying that she had misled the inquiry and reiterating that she had no recollection of the matters raised.[35]

Premier Daniel Andrews faced the inquiry on 25 September, at which he stated that he regarded Mikakos as "accountable" for the program. The following day, Mikakos resigned from cabinet. Mikakos made a statement suggesting that the reason for her resignation was that she disagreed with "elements" of the Premier's statement, and was no longer able to serve in his cabinet.[36]

Personal life

Jenny Mikakos attended the private Ivanhoe Girls' Grammar School and the University of Melbourne, where she obtained arts and law degrees. Before her election to Parliament, Mikakos worked as a commercial and tax lawyer at top-tier accounting firm Coopers & Lybrand and law firm King & Wood Mallesons, as well as Jerrard & Stuk. She was briefly a Councillor with the City of Northcote in the early 1990s.[2]


  1. ^ a b Suzannah Pearce, ed. (17 November 2006). "MIKAKOS Jenny". Who's Who in Australia Live!. North Melbourne, Vic: Crown Content Pty Ltd.
  2. ^ "Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos quits Parliament". ABC News. 26 September 2020. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  3. ^ a b "The Hon. Jenny Mikakos". Re-Member. Parliament of Victoria. Retrieved 29 September 2020.
  4. ^ "Jenny Mikakos becomes Deputy Leader in Victoria's Legislative Council". Neos Kosmos. 24 March 2020. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  5. ^ a b c Woodley, Matt (9 March 2020). "Doctors rally around coronavirus GP after criticism from minister". newsGP. Retrieved 19 March 2020.
  6. ^ Willingham, Richard (29 November 2018). "Hennessy becomes Attorney-General in re-elected Andrews' new gender-balanced Cabinet". ABC News. Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  7. ^ Ilanbey, Sumeyya (25 September 2020). "Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos resigns". Brisbane Times. Retrieved 25 September 2020.
  8. ^ "Hundreds of political jobs for relatives". Crikey (archived). Archived from the original on 22 July 2005. Retrieved 22 July 2005.
  9. ^ "Labor MPs to follow stationery protocol". The Age. 21 December 2005. Retrieved 11 May 2020.
  10. ^ "Victorian Labor misused $388,000 of taxpayer funds in 2014 election: report". Australian Financial Review. 20 March 2018. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  11. ^ "No charges being laid against Victorian Labor MPS over red shirts rort, police announce". 14 February 2019.
  12. ^ "Victorian Labor MPS exonerated in 'red shirts' election rorts scheme". 14 February 2019.
  13. ^ "Jenny Mikakos denies losing control of youth justice in Victoria". The Guardian. 13 January 2017. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
  14. ^ "Supreme court upholds ruling that children are being held at adult prison unlawfully". The Guardian. 28 December 2016. Retrieved 14 May 2020.
  15. ^ "Jenny Mikakos accuses opposition of 'race-baiting'". ABC. 8 February 2018. Retrieved 20 August 2020.
  16. ^ AAP, Calla Wahlquistwith (8 March 2020). "Doctor who had coronavirus demands apology from Victorian health minister over 'inaccuracies'". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  17. ^ "Doctor who had coronavirus demands apology from Victorian health minister over 'inaccuracies'". 8 March 2020.
  18. ^ "MP refuses to apologise to Missy's dad". 9 March 2020.
  19. ^ "Yassmin reacts to 'Cook or virus' debate". 30 April 2020.
  20. ^ "Victoria public housing towers locked down". 4 July 2020.
  21. ^ "Victoria calls in the army and panic buying returns in Melbourne's suburbs". 24 June 2020.
  22. ^ "Military called in to Melbourne's virus fight". 24 June 2020.
  23. ^ "Gladys Berejiklian says don't 'interact with people from Melbourne' as Victoria records 17 more coronavirus cases".
  24. ^ "Man dies of coronavirus, 20 new cases as reproduction rate surges". 23 June 2020.
  25. ^ "Health authorities investigating Melbourne 'super spreader' theory". 3 July 2020.
  26. ^ Cook, Henrietta (14 August 2020). "'I've been unlucky': Health Minister feels the heat". The Age. Retrieved 24 August 2020.
  27. ^ "Expert, doctor with COVID-19 say Vic Gov figure on healthcare worker infections 'doesn't make sense'". 20 August 2020.
  28. ^ "'Alarming and frightening': Scale of COVID-19 spread among Victorian healthcare workers revealed". 25 August 2020.
  29. ^ "Coronavirus-infected GP hits back after criticism from Victorian Health Minister". 7 March 2020.
  30. ^ "'If it wasn't enough, I'm deeply sorry': Mikakos defends coronavirus response". 9 August 2020.
  31. ^ "Health union declares relationship with Victorian Government dead over Minister's 'incompetence'". 24 September 2020.
  32. ^ "Factional games at play in health union's call to sack Jenny Mikakos". 24 September 2020.
  33. ^ "'Arrogant' Mikakos refuses to answer questions as Liberal MP posts crude attack". 5 August 2020.
  34. ^ at P-16
  35. ^ Kolovos, Benita (25 September 2020). "Mikakos denies misleading hotels inquiry". The Canberra Times. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  36. ^ Ilanbey, Sumeyya (26 September 2020). "Victorian Health Minister Jenny Mikakos resigns". The Age. Retrieved 26 September 2020.

Further reading

  • Healy, Ernest (1995), 'Ethnic ALP Branches - The Balkanisation of Labor Revisited,' in People and Place, Vol.3, No.3, Pages 48–53.
  • Lovell, D.W.; McAllister, I.; Maley, W.; Kukathas, C.; (1998), The Australian Political System, Longman, South Melbourne. ISBN 0-582-81027-2

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Wendy Lovell
as Minister for Children and Early Childhood Development
Minister for Families and Children
Succeeded by
Luke Donnellan
as Minister for Child Protection
Preceded by
Ryan Smith
Minister for Youth Affairs
Succeeded by
Gabrielle Williams
as Minister for Youth
Preceded by
Jill Hennessy
Minister for Health
Succeeded by
Martin Foley
Minister for Ambulance Services
This page was last edited on 8 September 2021, at 11:38
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