Deputy Prime Minister James Merlino among four high-ranking Victorian ministers expected to announce retirement

Four of the Victorian government’s top ministers will announce their retirement from politics in the next election, forcing a sweeping rethink of the Labor leadership team.

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

Deputy Prime Minister James Merlino is one of four senior MPs expected to announce their retirement as early as Friday.

Deputy Prime Minister James Merlino is one of four senior MPs expected to announce their retirement as early as Friday. Credit:Joe Armao

It will be a heavy blow to the PvdA, which has already lost several senior ministers in the past three years. Former Special Secretary of State Gavin Jennings retired in 2020, while frontbenchers Jill Hennessy and Richard Wynne have already announced they will retire in the latest election.

Prime Minister Daniel Andrews is expected to announce the retirements tomorrow.

Steve Dimopolous, Paul Edbrooke, Colin Brooks and Lizzie Blandthorn are being tipped to replace them in a cabinet reshuffle, according to Labor sources who were not authorized to speak publicly. Vicki Ward and Harriet Shing, both from left, have also been suggested as an opportunity to enter the cabinet.

It remains unclear who will replace Merlino as deputy Labor leader. According to the Labor faction convention, the deputy comes from a different faction than the prime minister. Daniel Andrews is part of the socialist left, while James Merlino was of the right.

Roads Minister Ben Carroll, a right-wing MP, has been touted as a potential replacement. Others say the prime minister could elect Transport Minister Jacinta Allan from the left. However, the latter would lead to significant backlash.

More to come.