A MATTER OF LIFE OR POLITICS
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