Steve Price (pictured) said it was 'pathetic' that Daniel Andrews received the nation's highest honour in the King's Birthday awards

Dan Andrews’ recognition in the King’s Birthday Honours sparked an awkward debate on The Project with hosts Waleed Aly and Steve Price not seeing eye to eye on the divisive former Victorian premier.

Andrews was awarded the nation’s highest honour, the Companion of the Order of Australia, on Monday for his ’eminent service to the people and Parliament of Victoria, to public health, to policy and regulatory reform, and to infrastructure development’.

He led Victoria through the Covid pandemic which saw Melbourne endure the world’s longest lockdown at 262 days and earned him the name ‘Dictator Dan’ for his hardline approach.

‘This is a bloke who locked Victoria up for longer than anywhere else in the world,’ Price fumed.

‘Apart from Covid, this bloke wasted $600m not having the Commonwealth Games.’

Andrews in July 2023 scrapped the Commonwealth Games, saying the event would cost $6-7billion, which Victoria could not afford, despite already having spent a considerable sum up to that point.

Steve Price (pictured) said it was 'pathetic' that Daniel Andrews received the nation's highest honour in the King's Birthday awards

Steve Price (pictured) said it was ‘pathetic’ that Daniel Andrews received the nation’s highest honour in the King’s Birthday awards

The former Victorian premier was awarded the nation's highest honour, the Companion of the Order of Australia, on Monday for his 'eminent service to the people and Parliament of Victoria, to public health, to policy and regulatory reform, and to infrastructure development'

The former Victorian premier was awarded the nation’s highest honour, the Companion of the Order of Australia, on Monday for his ’eminent service to the people and Parliament of Victoria, to public health, to policy and regulatory reform, and to infrastructure development’

In a scathing report released in March, Auditor-General Andrew Greaves found Victorian agencies failed to work together to give ‘frank, full and timely advice’ to the government on the Commonwealth games bid.

‘The decisions to bid for, plan and then withdraw from the Games have cost Victoria over $589 million with no discernible benefit,’ the report said.

‘This waste of taxpayer money on an event that will not happen is significant, especially considering the state’s recent sustained operating deficits and rising debt levels.’

Price also fumed that: ‘Every infrastructure project [Andrews] ticked off on is over budget and over time’.

‘The state’s got the combined debt of NSW, Queensland and Tasmania put together. And we give him an award? I mean, it is pathetic.’

Despite Aly admitting he did have some issues with Mr Andrews receiving such an award, he said Price was ignoring a crucial fact: Andrews’ policies were popular – and Victorians re-elected him after the lockdowns.

‘The problem your argument runs into Steve is that his policies, especially on Covid, were wildly popular and were tested at an election, where he had already had a landslide,’ he said.

‘And he got returned with an equivalent size.’

Waleed Aly (left, with Sarah Harris)  defended Mr Andrew's policies as being 'wildly popular', with Steve disagreeing

Waleed Aly (left, with Sarah Harris)  defended Mr Andrew’s policies as being ‘wildly popular’, with Steve disagreeing

But Price cut him off, saying: ‘That says more about how pathetic the opposition is. They were not wildly popular’. 

‘If you’d lost a relative who died in a nursing home, if you lost a business that collapsed, if you couldn’t go and see your child buried when they died – and you reckon that bloke deserves an award?’ Steve said.

Waleed replied that he didn’t want to ‘re-litigate Covid’ and Steve agreed but said: ‘Daniel Andrews shouldn’t have any sort of an award for anything.’ 

When Waleed said that a man on a video package that was played before the segment had acknowledged that Daniel Andrews saved his life, Steve had the ultimate comeback.

‘Well, it’s not going to get him into our golf club anyway,’ he said.

The former premier’s mate, Max Beck, made a subtle approach to Portsea Golf Club power brokers last year to ask whether Mr Andrews might be able to join.

Mr Andrews was reportedly told he would not – but club president Phil Cramer later denied the claims saying the ex-premier did not even formally submit an application.

Members of the National Golf Club on the Mornington Peninsula reportedly sent the club’s committee a letter outlining their clear stance against Andrews joining.

In a letter sent to the committee, more than 100 members, fuming at not being able to partake in a round during lockdowns, claimed Andrews (pictured with Golf Australia chairman John Hopkins) 'does not have the qualities that align with the club's fundamental values'

In a letter sent to the committee, more than 100 members, fuming at not being able to partake in a round during lockdowns, claimed Andrews (pictured with Golf Australia chairman John Hopkins) ‘does not have the qualities that align with the club’s fundamental values’

Other Australians have also weighed in on the controversy, with another former Victorian Premier, Jeff Kennett, writing in the Herald Sun that Mr Andrews receiving the highest honour has now devalued the award ‘beyond recognition’.

‘The Governor-General, and the Secretariat that manages the awarding of honours, have rewarded gross financial mismanagement of Victoria, the deaths of more than 800 Victorians, and manifest failure of Mr Andrews to discharge his responsibilities under the Westminster system,’ he wrote.

Meanwhile Jacqui Lambi told the Today Show that Mr Andrews – as well as all politicians – should not be eligible for the award.

Andrews announced his resignation last year, which left others wondering why he received the award so soon after his term – as other Premiers traditionally have to wait years after they have left office.

Veteran broadcaster Neil Mitchell questioned the timing of the award on social media.

‘Every premier since Jeff [Kennett] has waited years for a gong. Dan got his in eight months. Why?’ he said.

‘The Dan Andrews gong was fast-tracked.’

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