Australia’s New Leader Shuffles Cabinet

Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced her cabinet on Monday, excluding her predecessor , Kevin Rudd. Ms. Gillard, who became Australia’s first female prime minister last week after the ruling Labor Party ousted Mr. Rudd, made limited changes to the government’s front bench, saying it was best to have “as limited a re-shuffle as possible” before the upcoming election. Simon Crean, the former trade minister, was appointed to take Ms. Gillard’s former post as the minister for education, employment, workplace relations and social inclusion. The foreign minister, Stephen Smith, added trade to his responsibilities.

Australia's Prime Minister Julia Gillard (C) holds her first Cabinet meeting at Federal Parliament House in Canberra June 25, 2010. The Australia government's first priority is to resolve the divisive mining-tax row, new Prime Minister Gillard said on Friday.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced her cabinet on Monday, excluding her predecessor , Kevin Rudd.

Ms. Gillard, who became Australia’s first female prime minister last week after the ruling Labor Party ousted Mr. Rudd, made limited changes to the government’s front bench, saying it was best to have “as limited a re-shuffle as possible” before the upcoming election.

Simon Crean, the former trade minister, was appointed to take Ms. Gillard’s former post as the minister for education, employment, workplace relations and social inclusion. The foreign minister, Stephen Smith, added trade to his responsibilities.

Shortly after assuming power, Ms. Gillard said there would be a place for Mr. Rudd, a former diplomat, in her government, and he has vowed to support her. But despite speculation that Ms. Gillard would offer him the Foreign Ministry, , he was excluded from the top ranks for now.

“The premium I’ve put is on stability,” Ms. Gillard told a news conference in the capital, Canberra. “But if the government is re-elected, I will be very delighted to welcome Kevin Rudd into the cabinet in a senior position.”

The election must be held by next April, but Ms. Gillard has said she will call a vote before the end of the year. On Monday, she toured a shopping center in a key constituency outside of Canberra, greeting supporters and signing autographs.

Mr. Rudd has kept a low profile since he stepped down on Thursday to avoid a vote of no confidence from his party.

“It is really the only decision that she could have made, it would have been too much of a distraction to have Rudd serving there in a high-profile way,” said Wayne Errington, a professor of politics at the Australian National University. “Especially when she is going to be making decisions that are, in one way or another, a repudiation of Rudd.”

Ms. Gillard has moved swiftly to distance herself from some of Mr. Rudd’s more unpopular policies after several opinion polls indicated that the Labor Party was heading for a likely defeat after just one three-year term.

On her first day as leader, Ms. Gillard announced plans to negotiate on the terms of a proposed tax on Australia’s mining sector, and scrapped a multimillion-dollar federal advertising campaign that aimed to sell the tax to a skeptical electorate.

She has also promised to review the government’s stance on immigration. Mr. Rudd lifted Australia’s immigration to record levels to attract skilled workers. Last year, Australia’s population grew by more than 2 percent, twice the rate of most industrialized countries, prompting a backlash from many voters already frustrated by urban congestion, water shortages and rising housing costs.

Source : nytimes