Daniel Andrews’ Labor government has lost a fifth MP in just three days with the Premier announcing a former minister won’t be contesting the next election.
The Victorian premier announced John Eren was retiring from politics on Friday afternoon, saying he was ‘grateful’ for the friendship he shared with Mr Eren, who was the longtime member for Lara, north-east of Geelong.
‘I wish John and his family the very best for the future. I’m grateful for his friendship and support, just as I’m grateful for his contribution to the Parliament, the Government and his local community,’ Mr Andrews said.
‘I know we’ll keep seeing him live his values for years to come.’
Mr Eren had worked in parliament for close to 20 years and was a former cabinet minister.
The Victorian Labor Party has been thrown into disarray after five parliamentarians threw in the towel this week (pictured, Premier Daniel Andrews alongside local ministers)
The Victorian premier announced John Eren (pictured) was retiring from politics on Friday afternoon, saying he was ‘grateful’ for the friendship he shared with Mr Eren, who was the longtime member for Lara, north-east of Geelong
The MP said that having been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease as well as the pressure of the pandemic, now was the right time to resign from politics.
‘It has been two years since I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. This diagnosis along with challenges brought about by the Covid pandemic has made me place a greater focus on my health and well-being and that of my family and friends, to value the ability to spend quality time with them,’ Mr Eren said.
‘After thinking about my future as time moves on and following discussions with my family, it was with sadness that I today informed the Premier of my decision to not contest the 2022 State Election.
‘When we come to the end of this term of Parliament in about twelve months I feel that will be the time for me to step away and spend my time pursuing other things.’
Mr Eren had moved to Australia with his family from Turkey at the age of six before growing up in housing commission in North Melbourne.
Mr Andrews credited the Lara MP for his efforts in securing funding for women’s sport, boosting the tourism industry and advocating for Geelong.
Mr Eren’s departure is the latest in a spate of retirements in the lead up to the state election next year.
On Thursday, Mr Andrews announced Planning Minister Richard Wynne would also not be contesting the next election.
That came hot on the heels of former Attorney-General and Altona MP Jill Hennessy, Yan Yean MP Danielle Green and Ringwood MP Dustin Halse announcing they too wouldn’t be seeking re-election.
Mr Andrews on Thursday announced the fourth MP, Planning Minister Richard Wynne (pictured), would not be contesting the next election on Thursday
Others may also be looking to step down, with Broadmeadows MP Frank Maguire and Narre Warren North MP Luke Donnellan rumoured to be considering their futures, the Herald Sun reports.
Mr Donnellan quit the cabinet in October after an anti-corruption hearing heard claims he paid for party membership fees on behalf of others as part of a branch-stacking operation.
The place of former ministers Marlene Kairouz and Robin Scott, who both featured in anti-corruption hearings into taxpayer-funded staff, also remains up in the air.
Labor MPs have been asked to reveal their plans to run by the end of the week, with the national executive to decide on candidates in both houses by December 3.
The exodus has raised fears Labor could lose their comfortable majority – despite a recent Newspoll predicting Mr Andrews remains on track to win a third term.
A Roy Morgan survey published on Thursday has Labor leading the Liberal-National Coalition 59.5 to 40.5 on a two-party preferred basis, while last week’s Newspoll has them leading 58 to 42.
Both surveys are an increase on the 57.3 to 42.7 result at the 2018 election, which saw the coalition lose 11 lower house seats including blue-ribbon Hawthorn.
Senior Monash University politics lecturer Zareh Ghazarian said the recent Queensland, Tasmania and WA elections proved the pandemic favours incumbent governments.
‘It would probably be infuriating for the opposition. They aren’t able to make any meaningful inroads at the moment,’ he told AAP.
Dr Ghazarian said while Mr Andrews is a ‘polarising figure’, thanks in part to his 120 consecutive second wave press conferences, there is still time to reset before the poll.
Broadmeadows MP Frank Maguire (left) and Narre Warren North MP Luke Donnellan (right) are also rumoured to be considering their futures in the Labor Party
Ms Hennessy, the proud member for Altona in Melbourne’s southwest, was the first to bow out of the next election, which is scheduled for November 26, 2022.
The former Attorney-General and minister for Health, Ambulance Services and Workplace Safety announced the news on her Facebook page.
In December 2020, Ms Hennessy announced she would be stepping away from her role as chief lawmaker to spend more time with her teenage daughters.
‘No matter how precious your family is, politics can blind you their needs if you’re not careful. And life is short,’ she wrote on Wednesday.
Jill Hennessy, the proud member for Altona in Melbourne’s southwest, (pictured) was the first to bow out of the next election scheduled for November 26
‘After some reflection, I came to the view that making the commitment to serve another four-year term was incompatible with the other important priorities in my life, especially if I wanted to give them all the best of me.’
Ms Hennessy said she would always be an ‘ardent cheerleader’ for the cherished communities, leaders and organisations in Melbourne’s west.
She thanked Mr Andrews for giving her the opportunity to be part of a team who delivered ‘life-changing investments and reforms’.
Yan Yean MP Danielle Green (pictured) also advised she would not be seeking re-election
In turn, the premier said the MP had pioneered ‘some of the biggest reforms’ in Victoria including the nation’s first voluntary assisted dying scheme.
Mr Andrews said as Health Minister in their first term of government, Ms Hennessy had been ‘championing immunisation and taking on anti-vaxxers’ long before the Covid pandemic.
‘I want to thank Jill for the work she’s done, her years of service to the parliament and the Labor Party, and her dedication to our great movement,’ the premier said in a statement.
‘On a personal note, I want to thank her for her years of friendship and unwavering support – and wish her, Bernie and their daughters all the best for the future.’
MP for Yan Yean Danielle Green, also advised she would not be seeking re-election, after representing the locality in Melbourne’s northeast for nearly two decades.
The third MP to announce their resignation from politics was first-term Ringwood MP Dustin Halse (pictured)
‘It has been an honour and privilege to represent the people of Yan Yean and to have served in the Parliament of Victoria, since 2002,’ Ms Green wrote to Facebook.
The MP said she looked forward to a work-life balance that would allow her to care for her husband – who has been battling skin cancer – as well as her two sons.
Mr Andrews said Ms Green had fought ‘tooth and nail’ for the people of Yan Yean on issues such as local roads, access to TAFE or vital health and ambulance services.
The third MP to announce their resignation from politics on Wednesday was first-term Ringwood MP Dustin Halse.
Mr Halse described the decision to step down from his role as ‘one of the most difficult decisions’ of his life and said the last three years had been a privilege.
‘The global pandemic has forced us all to think about our priorities,’ he said.
‘And for me, that is looking after my young son, better supporting my wife and extended family, and taking my physical and mental health more seriously.’
The premier commended his efforts in removing two dangerous and congested level crossings as well as his passionate and committed advocacy for his community.