Kevin Rudd names record number of women in his cabinet

Melbourne, PTI | Updated : 01 July 2013, 02:40 PM

Australia's new cabinet was sworn in on Monday with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd naming a record number of six women, days after he dramatically ousted the country's first woman premier Julia Gillard.

Governor-General Quentin Bryce swore in the ministers this afternoon before a first cabinet meeting in Canberra.

The 55-year-old Prime Minister named 11 women ministers out of the 30 all up on the frontbench - and six in cabinet.

Rudd staged the comeback by winning a caucus vote by 57 to 45 last week, three years after Gillard toppled him in a similar showdown to become the first woman prime minister.

Rudd said he wanted the "best players on the field" and his new ministry has been chosen on merit and it outpoints the opposition on quality and experience, local media reported. He pledged to work for a "stronger, fairer Australia... and never ever, ever allow the fair-go to be thrown out the backdoor."

Victoria-based MP Richard Marles entered in the cabinet for the first time as Trade minister apart from other newcomers including Jacinta Collins as minister of Mental Health and Ageing, Tasmanian MP Julie Collins as minister for housing, Homelessnes and status of Women.

Some of his key supporters Joel Fitzgibbon and Kim Carr have returned as Agriculture Minister and Industry and Innovation Minister respectively whereas some supporters of Gillard continue to remain in Cabinet with different roles.

Tony Burke has been shifted from environment to Immigration ministry and Brendan O'Connor, who was looking after Immigration, will now become head Employment ministry.

Bill Shorten, seen as the main person for changing Labor leadership, was moved from Employment to Education ministry.

They join finance minister Penny Wong, health minister Tanya Plibersek and families minister Jenny Macklin in the 20-member cabinet.

Several Labor leaders have quit politics with latest one being Simon Crean who announced his departure bringing to an end a 23-year career in Federal Parliament.

He has joined the list of senior Labor figures who have quit politics in the wake of last week's leadership change. Others to quit were Gillard, Stephen Smith, Craig Emerson, Greg Combet and Peter Garrett.

Meanwhile, a new poll, first since Rudd's returned as Prime Minister, has ranked him in a significant lead as the country's preferred leader.

Galaxy poll published in News Limited papers says 51 per cent of respondents believe Rudd would make the best prime minister, compared to 34 per cent for Tony Abbott. Fifteen per cent of those surveyed said they were uncommitted.

Rudd's position shows an 18 per cent jump from Gillard's position in March. Rudd has said he was heartened by the boost Labor has received. In a statement, he said it was encouraging to see voters already responding to his brand of "positive, policy-driven" politics.

However, the poll shows the Coalition continues to lead Labor 51 per cent to 49 per cent, on a two-party preferred basis. Federal Opposition Leader Abbott said he was not surprised by the results.

First Published: Monday, July 01, 2013 02:39 PM
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