Mar 25, 2013

Australian PM Gillard In Reshuffle After Unseemly Vote

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has unveiled a new front bench, days after an abortive leadership vote she called "unseemly" and "self-indulgent".

Late last week, she survived a challenge after rival Kevin Rudd, a former prime minister, declined to contest a leadership ballot.

On Monday Ms Gillard named replacements for a slew of cabinet and junior ministers who had supported Mr Rudd.

And she hit out at last week's Labor party political infighting.

"Like Australians around the nation I was appalled by events of last week," she said. "It was an unseemly display, but out of that has come clarity.

"It is now very clear indeed that I have the confidence of my colleagues to lead the Labor Party and to remain as prime minister."

Key appointments included Tom Albanese - seen as a Rudd supporter - as minister for regional development and local government, replacing Simon Crean, who forced the leadership ballot.

Gary Gray joined the cabinet as minister for resources and energy, tourism and small business, replacing Martin Ferguson.

The reshuffle comes as Australia heads for a general election scheduled for 14 September. Opinions polls have Labor on course for defeat at the hands of Tony Abbott's Liberal Party.

And a Galaxy poll conducted over the weekend by Australia's Daily Telegraph said that 71% of respondents felt that the prime minister had been damaged by the party leadership instability.

The ballot followed weeks of speculation that Mr Rudd - the former prime minister ousted by Ms Gillard in 2010 - was amassing the numbers needed to challenge her.

But minutes before the vote was due to take place, he announced he would not run, saying he did not have the numbers.

Mr Rudd has since ruled out challenging for the party leadership again.


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