Martin Pakula, Martin Foley and James Merlino announce they’re quitting politics

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Four of Daniel Andrews’ most senior colleagues have announced they’re leaving politics and will leave the cabinet immediately.

Victoria’s deputy premier, health minister, police minister and former attorney general have all announced they are leaving politics within the space of 15 minutes.

James Merlino, Martin Foley, Lisa Neville and Martin Pakula made the shock announcements on Friday morning in statements saying they had informed the Premier of their intention to step down from the cabinet.

Mr Merlino, who also serves as Education Minister and Minister Mental Health, paid tribute to Premier Daniel Andrews in his announcement.

“Dan is a leader characterised by courage and determination, intellect and kindness,” he added.

“A Premier who not only has the biggest and boldest ideas to improve the lives of Victorians, but the energy, capacity and grit to actually get it done. A rare combination.”

Mr Merlino said a string of fresh faces is what the government needs to clinch power at the next state election.

“Renewal is critical for any government – fresh ideas and new energy,” Mr Merlino said.

“As hard as this is, I believe in my heart that renewal, new cabinet ministers around the table, is the best thing for the government and our state.”.

Mr Foley, whose role as health minister was amplified to Victorians during the pandemic, said the period has made his reevaluate work priorities.

“The past two years have been a tough time for all Victorians. Many of us have come to reflect on what we aspire to achieve,” he said.

“ I am no different. I am looking forward to contributing to a better, fairer, sustainable Victoria in a different capacity.

“One that allows me more time to focus on my family and wellbeing and different interests.”

Police minister Lisa Neville, who previously took leave to help her battle with Crohn’s disease, said stepping away from politics is “one of the hardest decisions” she’s ever made.

“And only after consulting with doctors, family and my friends, I have decided to not re-contest the seat of Bellarine in the 2022 state election,” she said.

“I have had the privilege of working with three Premiers – Steve Bracks, John Brumby and Daniel Andrews – and taking on a range of portfolios during those times.

“I want to particularly thank Daniel who has been a great friend and support during my time in the Parliament. It has been a great honour and privilege to serve as a senior Minister in his Cabinet since 2014.”

Martin Pakula currently serves as Minister for Jobs, Innovation & Trade and Minister for Tourism, Sport & Major Events after a stint as the state’s attorney general.

“Politics is an all-consuming endeavour. It’s a job which often demands an unhealthy measure of emotional and mental commitment,” he said.

“As politicians, we are notoriously bad at appreciating when considerations for our own well-being demand that we stop and find something else to do with our lives. I’d like to think I’m not one of them.

The shock announcements leaves the Andrews government scrambling to find new faces to fill the ministry before the November election.

Originally published as Victorian ministers Martin Pakula, Martin Foley and James Merlino announce they’re quitting politics


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