Deputy Premier James Merlino among four senior Victorian ministers expected to announce retirement

Four of the Victorian government’s most senior ministers will announce their retirement from politics at the next election, forcing a major rethink of Labor’s leadership team.

Deputy Premier James Merlino, Health Minister Martin Foley, Police Minister Lisa Neville, and Industry Minister Martin Pakula are expected to announce their intention to retire at the November state election, according to several sources with knowledge of the plans.

Deputy premier James Merlino is among four senior MPs expected to announce their retirement as early as Friday.

Deputy premier James Merlino is among four senior MPs expected to announce their retirement as early as Friday. Credit:Joe Armao

It will come as a major blow to the Labor Party, which has already lost several senior ministers over the past three years. Former Special Minister of State Gavin Jennings retired in 2020, while frontbenchers Jill Hennessy and Richard Wynne have already announced they will retire at the last election.

Premier Daniel Andrews is expected to announce the retirements tomorrow.

Steve Dimopolous, Paul Edbrooke, Colin Brooks and Lizzie Blandthorn are tipped to replace them in a cabinet reshuffle, according to Labor sources who weren’t authorised to speak publicly. Vicki Ward and Harriet Shing, both from the Left, have also been floated as a possibility to enter cabinet.

It remains unclear who will replace Merlino as deputy Labor leader. Under Labor’s factional convention, the deputy comes from a different faction to the premier. Daniel Andrews is part of the Socialist Left while James Merlino was from the Right.

Roads Minister Ben Carroll, a Right MP, has been touted as a potential replacement. Others say the Premier could handpick Transport Minister Jacinta Allan, from the Left. However, the latter would lead to significant backlash.

More to come.

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