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Health Minister Martin Foley among high-profile Victorian Labor ministers retires ahead of November election

Written by Javed Iqbal

Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews is losing decades of experience from his front bench, with the mass resignation of four of his top prime ministers just months after the November election.

Health Minister Martin Foley, Deputy Prime Minister James Merlino, Sports Minister Martin Pakula and Police Minister Lisa Neville are expected to retire from their portfolios as early as Friday.

They are willing to join Minister of Planning and Housing Richard Wynne, who announced last year that he would not contest his seat in the next electionwhere some in Labor also expect him to retire from his portfolio on Friday.

It gives the Prime Minister the opportunity to refresh his front bench ahead of the November polls.

Minister Lisa Neville speaks at an outdoor press conference.
Lisa Neville was first elected in 2002.(ABC News: Peter Healy)

Ministers will remain in parliament until the November election, but a cabinet reshuffle is expected in the coming days, with President Colin Brooks, Sonya Kilkenny and Lizzie Blandthorn already proposed as possible replacements.

The group joins the long list of ministers who have left the ministry since the last election, including Jill Hennessy, Jenny Mikakos, Gavin Jennings, Adem Somyurek, Marlene Kairouz, Luke Donnellan and Robin Scott.

As Minister of Health, Mr Foley oversaw some of the biggest decisions regarding Victoria’s COVID-19 pandemic response and was a frequent part of the daily press conference updates.

His anticipated retirement comes as Victoria’s healthcare system remains under severe strain, with critical staff shortages, ambulances and triple 0 – call delays plaguing state hospitals.

Once hailed as future leader, James Merlino stood as acting prime minister last year, while prime minister Daniel Andrews recovered from a serious back injury.

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Javed Iqbal

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