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Victorian Attorney-General Jill Hennessy stands down from ministry to spend more time with family

Jill Hennessy steps down from her role in the Victorian Cabinet to spend more time with her family, saying it was hard to manage the collision between work and home life.

Jill Hennessy has announced she will step down from her role as Victorian Attorney-General effective immediately to spend more time with her family.

Key points:
  • Ms Hennessy will stay in Parliament and contest the next election
  • She wants to spend more time with her two daughters, who are going into their final years of high school
  • Premier Daniel Andrews praised her for making a courageous decision

Ms Hennessy said she would continue to represent her constituents in the Altona district and would recontest the 2022 state election.

She said this year had prompted many Victorians to think about what was important to them, and she needed a "new normal" for the challenges in the next period of her life.

Ms Hennessy said politics could be hard on families and her's was at a stage where "they need more of me and, even more importantly, I need more of them".

"Sometimes, something has to give, at least for a little while," she said about juggling work and family life.

She said her two daughters were going through their final years of high school and she wanted to be more involved in their lives.

"They are wonderful, smart girls becoming young women and, despite the growing level of teenage sass, they continue to be my greatest source of joy."

She said with the Lawyer X royal commission concluded, it was the right time to make the move.

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The difficult 'balancing act' of work and family

Ms Hennessy also cited reforms to decriminalise public drunkenness and changes to conversion practices as key work that had been completed.

She praised Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews for helping her make the decision.

"We have discussed this for some time," she said.

"I am particularly grateful to him for his wise counsel, compassion and understanding about my decision."

A woman with fair hair in a black top with a colourful pattern.A woman with fair hair in a black top with a colourful pattern.
Daniel Andrews said Ms Hennessy was a valued member of the Cabinet.(ABC News: Andrew Ware)

Mr Andrews paid tribute to his Cabinet colleague, saying she had made a "courageous choice" — one that is right for her and her family.

"Every day in these jobs is a balancing act between your public life and your private life," he said.

"From the very beginning of our Government, Jill has been a valued member of our Cabinet."

He said she had a profound impact on the state in her roles as Attorney-General, Minister for Health and Minister for Workplace Safety.

"Our Cabinet has been stronger and our state made fairer by her outstanding contribution," Mr Andrews said.

Ms Hennessy introduced Victoria's voluntary assisted dying legislation, legislated nurse-to-patient ratios and introduced workplace manslaughter laws.

She was first elected as the Member for Altona in February 2010 in a by-election and entered the ministry in 2014 as Minister for Health.

A woman with blond hair wearing dark glasses speaks at a lectern in front of a number of microphones.A woman with blond hair wearing dark glasses speaks at a lectern in front of a number of microphones.
Ms Hennessy says with the Lawyer X royal commission concluded, now is the right time to step down.(ABC News)
Ms Hennessy may return to frontbench in the future

Ms Hennessy's colleagues have told the ABC they back her decision, saying she is doing the right thing by her family.

It is unlikely her departure will trigger a wider reshuffle, with a woman from the Socialist Left faction set to replace her in Cabinet.

Her replacement will have to be a lawyer and there several in Cabinet, including Upper House MP Jaclyn Symes, who also worked as an adviser to former attorney-general Rob Hulls.

Other lawyers include former attorney-general Martin Pakula, Ben Carroll, the Minister for Roads and Road Safety, and Minister for Women Gabrielle Williams.

Ministers have also said that given Ms Hennessy has committed to recontesting her seat in 2022, there is no reason she cannot return to the frontbench in the future.

Corrections Minister Natalie Hutchins returned to the ministry this year after taking standing aside from Cabinet in 2018.

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