Family comes first as minister quits politics
South Australian Health Minister Jack Snelling is quitting state politics to spend more time with his family, forcing Premier Jay Weatherill to fill a big hole in his ministry just six months before the state election.
Mr Snelling will step down from cabinet immediately and will not contest the March poll, saying it’s time for him to “step away”.
But the Liberal opposition says his departure is a massive vote of no confidence in the government and involves more than family considerations. “It’s been a very, very difficult decision for me and I’ve agonised over it for some time,” Mr Snelling told reporters on Sunday, surrounded by his wife and six children.
“I’m in my mid-40s. I’ve been a member of parliament for 20 years and really I’ve decided that now is the time for me to step away. It’s something I need to do for my family, as well.
“In a portfolio like health, you can’t help but be often distracted and perhaps, dare I say it, sometimes a little bit grumpy with the family in a way that they don’t deserve.”
The Premier said the outgoing minister would always be remembered as the man who delivered the new $2.4 billion Royal Adelaide Hospital and presided over major changes to the health system. “It’s been a stellar career,” Mr Weatherill said.
Opposition Leader Steven Marshall said the minister’s resignation had come when there were still major issues confronting health and suggested he was not confident of retaining his seat next year.
“Jack Snelling has decided to actually jump ship. This is a massive slap in the face for Jay Weatherill and this chaotic Labor government,” Mr Marshall said.
“There’s much more to this story that what we’ve heard today.”
Mr Weatherill did not indicate whether he will fill the vacant portfolio or make other changes.
Mr Snelling’s resignation comes two weeks after he oversaw the long-awaited opening of the new Royal Adelaide and towards the end of a controversial revamp of SA’s health services known as Transforming Health.
He was first elected as the MP for Playford in 1997 and became the Health Minister in January 2013. He previously served as treasurer and parliamentary Speaker.