Four Vic cabinet ministers set to resign

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A Victorian Labor minister has all but confirmed a major cabinet reshuffle, with four other MPs expected to follow him in November’s state election.

Deputy Prime Minister James Merlino, Health Minister Martin Foley, Sports Minister Martin Pakula and Police Minister Lisa Neville are all expected to announce they will not contest their seats, according to multiple media outlets.

An announcement could come as soon as Friday, although a Victorian government official declined to comment.

They would join retired Planning Minister Richard Wynne, who said the situation was an “opportunity for renewal” and paid tribute to Mr Merlino.

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“We have a very, very good crop of ministers coming forward and I look forward to this rejuvenation of our cabinet,” he told the Nine Network outside Parliament on Thursday evening.

“James has been a wonderful friend, a wonderful minister…he has a wonderful legacy to celebrate.”

Mr Merlino declined to be fired on ‘speculation’ he is retiring, while Mr Pakula indicated he would likely speak on Friday.

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As Mr Pakula’s lower house seat in Keysborough was removed as part of an electoral redistribution, he was due to move to the upper house.

Ms Neville took extended leave last year as she battled severe outbreaks of Crohn’s disease and gave up the emergency services portfolio when she returned to work in August.

Mr Foley, who succeeded Jenny Mikakos as health minister after she resigned in September 2020, on Wednesday dismissed questions about his future.

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He said the state was still “in the middle of a global pandemic” and “we have a thing or two to do.”

“I look forward to contributing to the re-election of Andrews’ Labor government through the Albert Park seat,” he said.

If Mr Foley steps down from cabinet, Victoria would have to appoint her fourth health minister in as many years.

-PAA

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