BREAKING: Why I'm quitting politics
BILL Byrne's mind is willing but his body isn't.
The 59-year old Member for Rockhampton yesterday resigned from the Queensland Cabinet (as Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries and Minister for Rural Economic Development) and advised he won't be contesting the next Queensland election.
Mr Byrne made the bombshell decision immediately after taking advice from his doctor that his life was at risk if he continued working under the same conditions.
In an afternoon interview with The Morning Bulletin he didn't want to reveal too many details about a serious health issue but did say his problems were "cardiovascular".
"The mind is willing but the body is telling me things and I'd be stupid not to take notice," he said in his Denham St office with an air of grim resignation.
"It's not terminal, but it is certainly life threatening."
"I'm in the circumstance where I have to step away from politics, the facts are that I have had some underlying health issues that I've attempted to address while I've been in politics and that has not been effective.
"The issues that I confront I have to reconcile against lifestyle and lifestyle choices and the intensity of what I do. I'm pretty much I'm at a point where there is a clear decision I have to make.
"I've come straight from my doctor and this is the culmination of quite a number of years of trying to get to a point of management and clearly that can't be achieved while I'm in this game where lifestyle is driven by the tempo of being a politician.
"So I have a clear choice of the prospect of longevity as grandfather and enjoying retirement and all of that,.....or continue to take these risks and be caught up in the hurly burly of politics."
Mr Byrne said when he began serving as Rockhampton's MP in March 2012 he had been very fit, going to gym six days a week, exercising regularly, playing golf and riding a bike.
But that changed with the demands of being a shadow minister and then a minister in the Government with multiple portfolios.
"I've had six years at it, seven if you count the pre selection process, and every step has been full on," he said.
"What happens is this job is like-it-or-lump it, 24/7. People don't tend to realise that.
"I get up every morning at 5am and read the media summaries and your day starts and keeps going all day. Politicians are not all about scones and bickies.
One of the big factors which made stepping down a relatively simple decision yesterday was the desire for him and wife Kim to enjoy watching their grandchildren grow up.
"Our grandson is the greatest joy we have in life and I have another grandchild due around January," the father of three daughters said.
"Do I want an opportunity to watch my grand children grow up ? Well yes I do."
Looking back on his political career, he spoke with affection about being a member of the Significant Seven in 2012; the thin line of Labor MPs who formed Opposition after the 2012 LNP landslide win.
"People say it must have been terrible to be in Opposition, but one thing about a seven-person Opposition, you are very tight-knit," he said.
"You are surrounded and you have to circle the wagons. I forged some lifelong friendships in what was a very difficult situation. We had to work very hard as a small group to keep our end up."
He said going into Government when you don't have a majority had been challenging but he said Labor under the leadership of Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk "had achieved an enormous amount relative to our parliamentary numbers".
As for the seat of Rockhampton, he was reluctant to "rabbit on" about his own achievements but said he was proud of doubling the funding for Beef Australia, successfully negotiating the enterprise bargaining agreement for the Queensland Police Service, achieving funding for a rescue chopper landing pad, the $200m expansion for the Capricornia Correctional Centre, funding for the Rockhampton Riverbank project, and the Rockhampton Hospital carpark.
"It's been a great privilege. I have tried to deliver the best outcomes for the people in my community," he said.
"I have quietly gone about my business without blowing my trumpet too hard."
"I've always had the belief that you don't build an expectation in the community and then don't deliver it."
He praised Rockhampton Regional Council for its achievements, particularly this week's Adani success with the FIFO hub win.
"What's been great about this council is that have been unified. Disunity is death in any politics," he said.
"I have had a great relationship with council and my role in many respects is to back in the will of council."
One of the heavy responsibilities of being a local member was trying to help people out when they had no where else to turn.
"People have sat on this couch and told me about some of their personal circumstances that has really affected them," he said.
"You are often the last port of call trying to find something to change the situation for them."
So what happens for Bill Byrne after the State election? (whenever that may be).
"I'm going to retire," he said.
"Remove all of the friction, stress and agro that comes with politics."
"I've tried to hold on, and maybe more disciplined people could have, but I have put politics first and everything else second and that has to change."
Next week when Parliament resumes and he returns as a backbencher he will ask the Opposition for "a pair" to allow him to undertake more medical tests in Brisbane "to get an absolutely clear position from where I'm at".
"The risk factors are quite high."
The risk factors for Labor holding on to Rockhampton have also just gone up. Watch this space.