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Four senior Victorian ministers step down in exodus from Andrews government



Four senior ministers in Daniel Andrews' Victorian government have confirmed they will not recontest their seats at the upcoming state election in November.

By 10am, Deputy Premier James Merlino, Health Minister Martin Foley, Sport and Tourism Minister Martin Pakula and Police Minister Lisa Neville had all announced their intention to step down prior to the election.

Pakula and Foley will retire entirely from state politics, while Neville has said she will remain in the public service. Merlino will remain connected to the government's election campaign in some capacity.

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All four are senior cabinet ministers and will deal a huge blow to the Andrews' government's chances of re-election.

In a statement, Pakula said he did not wish to see himself as a politician who stayed in the job at the expense of the rest of his life.

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

"As politicans, 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."

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Following the announcements, Premier Daniel Andrews issued a pre-prepared statement for each of his departing ministers, suggesting that he was aware of his colleagues' intentions.

In each, he detailed his appreciation for how they steered their respective portfolios through the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Martin stepped up to do one of the most difficult jobs in a global pandemic. His professionalism, and his calm, deliberate direction saw Victoria through the worst of it," Andrews said of Foley.

"His leadership during COVID-19 saved lives.

"He never shied away from doing what needed to be done to keep Victorians safe, to keep our health system going and to protect our nurses, doctors, paramedics and allied health professionals."

More to come.

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