Victorian Cabinet to reshuffle as key ministers depart

Premier Daniel Andrews has announced a raft of new Coordinating Minsters after key Labor front benchers announced they will be resigning at this year's state election. file photograph

Michelle Slater

The Victorian front bench is getting a shake up after a raft of senior government ministers officially stated they will resign at the November 26 state election.

Deputy Premier James Merlino, Trade and Tourism Minister Martin Pakula, Water and Police Minister Lisa Neville and Health Minister Martin Foley have confirmed they will be calling it quits.

The departure comes after Planning Minster Richard Wynne and former attorney-general Jill Hennessy had already announced they will leave politics this year.

Premier Daniel Andrews issued comments thanking each of his departing Members, announcing a host of Coordinating Ministers to oversee each of the departments across government.

Key changes include Mary-Anne Thomas taking over as the Coordinating Minister for the Department of Health.

Danny Pearson will become the Coordinating Minister for the Department of Families, Fairness and Housing.

Natalie Hutchins will become the Coordinating Minister for the Department of Education and Training.

Ben Carroll will become the Coordinating Minister for the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions.

Lily D’Ambrosio will become the Coordinating Minister for the Department of Environment, Planning, Land and Water.

Mr Andrews said Labor would convene for a Caucus meeting tomorrow to appoint the Cabinet.

He said portfolio arrangements would be confirmed in “due course” and a new Ministry would be confirmed early next week.

“As one group of very experienced people move on, I know they will be replaced by equally capable and committed Ministers who will bring new ideas and new energy to our Cabinet,” Mr Andrews said.

Mr Merlino, who holds the seat of Monbulk as well as the education and mental health portfolios issued a formal statement of Friday saying his 20-year journey was “coming to an end”.

He thanked Premier Dan Andrews, describing him as a “leader characterised by courage and determination, intellect and kindness”.

“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.

Mr Foley led the state through the pandemic after former Health Minister Jenny Mikakos stood down in 2020 surrounding an Inquiry into COVID-19 hotel quarantine.

Mr Foley acknowledged that the past two years have been a tough time for all Victorians.

“Our health and ambulance services have been through the toughest of times in this pandemic,” Mr Foley said.

“Working with our health services – nurses, doctors, paramedics, and allied health professionals and scientists – has been the greatest revelation of my professional life.

“Our health system achievements and our recovery through these last two years is all owed to them.”

Ms Neville, who was the state’s first female Police Minister, cited health issues for her decision to step-down upon the advice of her family and doctors.

Ms Neville had taken extended leave last year for being hospitalised with Crohn’s disease, but said she was “determined” to return to work and have a more open discussion about the disease.

“I wanted to prove that despite its debilitating effects, that anyone who experiences the disease does not have to be defined by it,” Ms Neville said.

“That’s why I was determined to return to work and resume my work responsibilities.”