Major blow for Daniel Andrews’ government with James Merlino, Martin Foley, Martin Pakula and Lisa Neville set to retire
Four senior Victorian government ministers will reportedly announce their retirement from politics at the November state election, potentially prompting a major cabinet reshuffle.
Deputy Premier James Merlino, Health Minister Martin Foley, Sports Minister Martin Pakula and Police Minister Lisa Neville are all planning to announce they won’t recontest their seats, according to multiple media reports.
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An official announcement is expected to come on Friday, but a Victorian government spokesperson declined to comment.
All four MPs gave ministerial statements during question time on Thursday, the final parliamentary sitting day until early August.
Ministers have faced questions about their future all week, including Merlino and Foley.
Foley, who took over from Jenny Mikakos as health minister following her resignation in September 2020, on Wednesday insisted he would contest the next election.
He noted the state is still “in the middle of a global pandemic” and “we’ve got one or two things to do”.
“I look forward to making a contribution to re-elect the Andrews Labor government via the seat of Albert Park,” he told reporters.
Merlino stopped short of confirming outright he would recontest his seat of Monbulk in Melbourne’s east.
“I’m not going to play the rumour game,” he said on Tuesday.
“I am absolutely committed to the re-election of the Andrews government … and I’ve got a lot of energy for the contest at the end of the year.”
Neville returned to work in August 2021 after taking leave to recover from surgery, while Mr Pakula’s lower house seat of Keysborough is being scrapped as part of an electoral redistribution.
When asked on Tuesday if he expected to reshuffle his cabinet before the election, Premier Daniel Andrews said he had no announcement to make.
“We’ll wait and see how things go,” he said.