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very per­sonal terms what can be de­scribed as a ‘good death’ that I had some time I needed to re­con­sider my views on how we might pro­vide for those who, with­out com­pas­sion, had a very ‘bad death’.

“Good death” or not, An­drews con­cedes an er­ror — he needed time off.

It goes to his fran­tic sched­ule, driven in part by a slack pace he has been said to ob­serve in some pre­de­ces­sors.

He re­turned to work soon af­ter his fa­ther died be­cause of a com­ing state bud­get. He should have had a few weeks off, he now says, but “I didn’t want to miss it, I didn’t want to be not part of it”.

His hard­est role lay in the grief and con­fu­sion of the Bourke St ram­page. An­drews was af­fected by his meet­ings with fam­i­lies of the killed.

“I made a prom­ise to each of them,” An­drews says of the griev­ing fam­i­lies. “I said that we would have the tough­est bail laws in the coun­try and we got on and did that. It wouldn’t bring back their loved ones but that was what we had to do: learn from such a ter­ri­ble act and make sure we were best placed to never see that sort of hor­ror hap­pen again.”

Law and or­der has dom­i­nated the head­lines. It isn’t about to go away ei­ther, as An­drews agrees. He called youth crime a “sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenge” in July af­ter the ex­plo­sion of African gang vi­o­lence and the kinds of ter­ror, such as home in­va­sions and car­jack­ings, which were once for­eign to Mel­bourne.

His gov­ern­ment — and Vic­to­ria Po­lice — were widely ac­cused of be­ing soft on crime. He says some of­fend­ers need to be treated “harshly, firmly”, in de­scrib­ing a one-on-one ap­proach that draws on dif­fer­ent sec­tors, in­clud­ing po­lice. He speaks of en­cour­ag­ing ar­rest rates and crime statis­tics, but agrees that more has to be done.

“We’ve been tough, and crit­i­cised for it, where we have needed to be,” An­drews says.

“We’ll con­tinue that. The key point here is that you’ve got to be smart as well. That’s about in­vest­ing not just in more po­lice … but also mak­ing sure you’re in­vest­ing in TAFE, skills and jobs and ev­ery re­source avail­able. Is it over? No.”

An­drews sounds most stri­dent in his de­fence of the East West Link con­tract.

Crit­ics de­cry a de­ci­sion that cost the state $1 bil­lion to not build a road. An­drews main­tains the same de­ci­sion saved the state bil­lions of dol­lars by shelv­ing a “booby-trapped con­tract”.

He says he is not frus­trated by the en­dur­ing an­i­mosi­ties of the UFU dis­pute, which erupted in early 2016 and trig­gered the res­ig­na­tion of emer­gency ser­vices min­is­ter Jane Gar­rett.

Vol­un­teer fireys protested in a show of re­gional dis­en­chant­ment.

An­drews says he has no con­trol over — nor takes lit­tle no­tice — of news agen­das.

He says peo­ple are free to de­ter­mine what’s im­por­tant to them.

On ques­tions of in­fra­struc­ture spend­ing and debt, he ar­gues that his gov­ern­ment has de­liv­ered sur­pluses and re­tained triple-A rat­ings. “The econ­omy is strong, the econ­omy is grow­ing, and that’s re­ally im­por­tant for liveli­hoods, for jobs, for peo­ple’s prospects,” he says.

It’s the sort of talk you’ll hear in com­ing weeks on the cam­paign trail, of­ten with wife Cather­ine by his side. A vet­eran of the hus­tings, she’s look­ing for­ward to some to­gether time, al­beit shared with the rest of Vic­to­ria: “It’s quite nice be­cause I get to spend a lit­tle bit more time with my hus­band, who’s in­cred­i­bly funny and who I miss a lot,” she says.

Daniel An­drews with wife Cather­ine and chil­dren Noah, 16, Grace, 14, and Joseph, 11; and with Joseph (op­po­site page). Pic­tures: ALEX COPPEL We’ve got to keep build­ing. We’ve got to keep get­ting things done, to keep pace, to stay ahead and turn growth from a chal­lenge into a great op­por­tu­nity for jobs, not just for to­day but for our kids and their kids. Our proven track record and our pos­i­tive and op­ti­mistic agenda for the next four years.

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