A MAT­TER OF LIFE OR POL­I­TICS

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - NEWS - SARAH VOGLER

RE­TIR­ING Agri­cul­ture Min­is­ter Bill Byrne says his GP gave him a clear choice on Fri­day – quit pol­i­tics and smok­ing or con­tinue to be a “dead man walk­ing”.

The 59-year-old, who is suf­fer­ing poor heart health, chose the for­mer, in­form­ing Premier An­nasta­cia Palaszczuk on Fri­day af­ter­noon that he was quit­ting Cab­i­net and pol­i­tics in a bid to turn his poor health prospects around.

The race is now on to find an elec­tion-eve re­place­ment to run in Mr Byrne’s Rock­hamp­ton seat.

Mines Min­is­ter An­thony Lyn­ham will take on the Agri­cul­ture port­fo­lio un­til a new min­is­ter is ap­pointed.

Ms Palaszczuk yes­ter­day said she would take her time re­plac­ing Mr Byrne in Cabi- net, in­sist­ing his res­ig­na­tion was not an elec­tion trig­ger.

La­bor is ex­pected to open pre­s­e­lec­tion for the Cen­tral Queens­land seat as early as to­day. Rock­hamp­ton Mayor Mar­garet Strelow and teacher Dan Coxen are among those ap­proached.

Mr Byrne is to un­dergo fur­ther tests in Bris­bane.

“Every­one knows that I have made some life­style choices that are not rec­om­mended,” he said.

“I’ve known full well that if you live the life of Ri­ley you are go­ing to pay the piper even­tu­ally.”

Mr Byrne said he had been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing in­creased symp­toms as­so­ci­ated with heart is­sues, but had mostly ig­nored them un­til he found time to go to the doc­tor while on leave.

“When I de­scribed those symp­toms he thought it pru- dent that we do some fur­ther test­ing and it was that test­ing, done here in Rock­hamp­ton, that put up the red flags,” he said. “It went to a whole dif­fer­ent level on Fri­day, (when the re­sults came back).

“The risk pro­file is well in the red zone. There­fore I have to fun­da­men­tally cease and de­sist cur­rent en­deav­ours, par­tic­u­larly the stress and strain of pol­i­tics.”

TIME TO GO: Agri­cul­ture and Fish­eries Min­is­ter and Rock­hamp­ton MP Bill Byrne is leav­ing on his doc­tor’s ad­vice. Pic­ture: AAP/Tim Mars­den

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