By Cam Lucadou-Wells
Keysborough MP Martin Pakula has resigned from State Cabinet and will not contest the 2022 state election.
He joined an exodus of senior ministers James Merlino, Martin Foley and Lisa Neville who announced their departures on 24 June.
Mr Pakula holds a plethora of portfolios as the Minister for Industry Support and Recovery, Trade, Business Precincts, Tourism, Sport and Major Events, and Racing.
He was also a former State Attorney-General and Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Transport.
First elected as a Western Metropolitan MP in the Upper House in 2006, Mr Pakula later moved to the Lower House seat of Lyndhurst – later named Keysborough.
His Keysborough seat was recently abolished in a electoral boundary re-distribution, leaving him with an option of returning to the Upper House for the upcoming state election.
In a statement, Mr Pakula said he would leave the Ministry “as soon as the Premier settles on the team he wishes to take to the election”.
Mr Pakula thanked the “beautiful people” of Keysborough, Springvale, Springvale South, Noble Park, Dingley and Waterways, as well as family, staff, colleagues and former Premiers Steve Bracks and John Brumby.
He said Premier Daniel Andrews “continues to lead a government of consequence, bravery, compassion and delivery”.
“Dan has honoured me by allowing me to serve as Attorney-General, to oversee my beloved racing industry, and to support the business, tourism, sporting and events sectors through the worst of the pandemic.
“A decade in the Ministry has taught me that a government with big ambitions for the state, its people and its future is something to be cherished.”
Mr Andrews, in a statement, paid tribute to Mr Pakula’s “appreciation for good decent jobs – and for working people”.
Achievements included a redress scheme for victims of institutional child abuse, and luring the “world’s biggest events” to Victoria including the Formula One race for the next decade and the 2026 Commonwealth Games, Mr Andrews said.
“You’d be hard pressed to find a Racing Minister with greater passion for the sport, just as you’d be hard pressed to find a Minister who worked harder to support the industry and the jobs it sustains.”
Racing Victoria chair Brian Kruger said Mr Pakula worked tirelessly to support the horse-racing industry, particularly during the Covid pandemic.
He’d championed equine welfare, as well as racing infrastructure and tracks.