Australia′s prime minister reshuffles rogue cabinet | News | DW | 02.03.2012
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Australia's prime minister reshuffles rogue cabinet

Julia Gillard, who recently survived a leadership challenge from within her Labor party led by her predecessor Kevin Rudd, has reshuffled her cabinet - ousting some ministers who turned on her and sparing others.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Friday reshuffled her cabinet, days after factions of her Australian Labor Party tried - and failed - to oust her from within.

The unsuccessful leadership challenge was led by former Foreign Affairs Minister Kevin Rudd, also Gillard's predecessor as prime minister, who was automatically demoted to the backbenches as a result.

Gillard announced on Friday morning that Bob Carr, the former New South Wales state premier, would take over Rudd's duties as Australia's top diplomat.

Carr had previously said he was not pursuing the job when rumors linked him with the post. In a joint press conference with Gillard, he said that returning to public office was a difficult decision to make.

"I was churned up, I was in two minds. I was drawn to public service but I'd been out of it for a good six years. But in the end when the distinctive voice of Prime Minister Gillard rouses you from your slumber and says 'will you be Foreign Minister of Australia?' I could not have found it in me to have said no," Carr told reporters in the capital Canberra.

Carr started his career as a journalist and was considered one of the most prominent political figures in the country when he stepped down after a decade as leader of Australia's most populous state New South Wales in 2005.

He also said that he admired the renegade Rudd, who lost the leadership ballot 71-31, and would be seeking advice on his new role from the former minister.

Cabinet carousel

The failed mutiny within the Australian Labor Party has led to a string of other changes within Gillard's cabinet. On Friday, the prime minister also axed Emergency Management Minister Robert McClelland - one of Rudd's supporters - sending him to the backbenches.

"The decisions I have made are about merit, about the strongest possible team," Gillard said. "I am thanking Robert McClelland for his service, but in putting together the strongest possible team, I believe this was the shape of it."

McLelland issued a statement in response saying he was now considering whether he wanted to remain in politics. Should he decide to quit, it would trigger a by-election in the hotly contested constituency of Barton in New South Wales.

Three other ministers who supported Rudd - Chris Bowen, Martin Ferguson and Anthony Albanese - have so far survived the cabinet reshuffle unscathed, while erstwhile Manufacturing Minister Kim Carr retained a spot on the cabinet but was moved away from his beloved portfolio and given the Human Services position instead.

Gillard has also rewarded some of her most vocal backbench supporters during the leadership challenge - David Bradbury, Bernie Ripoli, Kate Lundy and Brendan O'Connor - with promotions to the various senior positions freed up during a turbulent week in Canberra.

msh/bk (AFP, AP)