No more smokes, grog, fatty foods for Rockhampton MP

No More Chances: Member for Rockhampton Bill Byrne opens up about the pressures of political life.
No More Chances: Member for Rockhampton Bill Byrne opens up about the pressures of political life.

ALMOST two weeks ago, Bill Byrne had to make the shock announcement that he had to quit politics - doctors orders.

Since then, the 59-year old Member for Rockhampton and now former Agriculture and Fisheries Minister has changed his lifestyle dramatically. And you can see the evidence of those changes in his appearance.

Mr Byrne was at a new service announcement yesterday with colleague Shannon Fentiman, the Minister for Child Safety.

He looked 10 years younger and like he'd lost a couple of kilos since this Morning Bulletin reporter ran into him on August 29 for an interview.

Yesterday, he talked about how he was feeling after making many changes to his lifestyle on October 7.


Rockhampton MP Bill Byrne and Mayor Margaret Strelow view the recently completed Stage 1b of the Riverbank Revitalisation.
BEFORE QUITTING: Mr Byrne and Mayor Margaret Strelow in July 2017. Allan Reinikka ROK060717ariverba

He said he was "feeling dramatically more relaxed" since shouldering the agriculture and fisheries ministerial role to another colleague.

"Since I resigned, I haven't had a cigarette. Once upon a time that would have been impossible," said the former Army Lieutenant Colonel.

"Unfortunately, I'm feeling very relaxed," he said in jest.

"That's part of the problem. Politics is it's own set of challenges and some of us are a bit more highly strung than others and sometimes after a long period of time of winding yourself up, you pay a price for that."


11.15am Bill Byrne catches up with Anna Bligh.       Walking along Quay Street Riverbank. A day with Anna Bligh.      Photo Sharyn O'Neill / The Morning Bulletin   ROK090811sday7
BEFORE POLITICS: Bill Byrne with now former Queensland Premier Anna Bligh on the riverbank. Sharyn O'Neill

Mr Byrne has also avoided alcoholic beverages... but it's not something he plans to do forever.

"I'm not promising to give the grog away," he said.

"I've stepped back from all the things doing me harm fundamentally... started to exercise again. No smoking. No drinking. Decent sleep and not waking up at 4am or 4.30am to check the media cycle for a start."

He said most people in politics do that - start with the media cycle as soon as they wake up and it doesn't stop until they go to bed at night.

"I just stepped away from all that," Mr Byrne said.

"In fact I only saw what was in the paper today 10 minutes before I got here. That's how disconnected from the media cycle I am now.

"I will probably be attending parliament next week in a very limited capacity. I'm not allowed to get stressed out or angry so there you go.. it's going to be hard enough as it is.

"The doctors have made it pretty clear about what I've got to do."

He said they made it very clear he has "no more chances".

"It's not like I'm 20-years-old anymore."

Mr Byrne yesterday avoided getting involved with the chatter about the contenders to take his place at the ALP representative to run for the seat of Rockhampton at the next state election, when he retires completely from politics.

At the moment, there are two people vying for the ALP candidacy - CQ Public Housing boss Barry O'Rourke and Rockhampton Mayor Margaret Strelow - who had interviews in Brisbane yesterday.