• Captain James Cook (L) Dr. Annaliese van Diemen. (AAP)Source: AAP
The Victorian Deputy Chief Health Officer has been cleared after she came under fire last week for posting a tweet likening the coronavirus pandemic to the arrival of James Cook.
By
Madeline Hayman-Reber

Source:
NITV News
5 May 2020 - 4:53 PM  UPDATED 5 May 2020 - 4:58 PM

The Victorian Deputy Chief Health Commissioner has been cleared of any breach of the state's public sector code of conduct following her tweet last week that drew comparison between the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia and the landing of the 18th century British explorer, James Cook.

The comments were made via Dr Annaliese van Diemen's personal Twitter account outside of work, though the tweet had federal and state Liberal MPs and conservative commentators calling for her resignation.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison told the media her comments were disappointing, wile Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton called for her to be sacked, and Brighton MP James Newbury made a formal complaint, which triggered the investigation.

"She clearly wouldn't get the job as chief historian," Mr Morrison told 2GB radio last Friday, the day after the tweet was posted.

"I applaud the work she is doing as a medical officer in Victoria, that's her expertise. I would strongly suggest she keep to that, because those sort of comments don't inspire confidence... People should stick to their day jobs," he said.

A subsequent investigation into Dr van Diemen's conduct has cleared the deputy chief health officer of any breach of the code of conduct for Victorian public sector employees,

In a letter, Department of Health secretary Kym Peake said the investigation concluded that no disciplinary action would be taken against Ms van Diemen.

The letter also said the risks of the private use of social media when working in the public sector had subsequently been discussed with the Deputy Chief Health Officer.

“In addition, Ms Peake has advised the Commission that Dr van Diemen recognises the risk of diverting attention from the critical public health messages to the community and has subsequently removed her Twitter account from her phone.”

The incident has also triggered an investigation into the department’s social media guidelines.

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