Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced a new ministerial team as opinion polls show he has narrowed the governing Labor party’s gap with the opposition in opinion polls since ousting Julia Gillard last week.
Rudd’s deputy Anthony Albanese was given the communications portfolio, Tony Burke immigration, Mark Butler climate change and Richard Marles trade, while Penny Wong will remain as finance minister, and powerbroker Bill Shorten was appointed school education minister, Rudd said. The new ministry of 30 will have 11 women.
“I have assembled today a strong economic team,” Rudd told reporters in Newcastle. “We’ll have the largest number of women of any cabinet in Australia’s history.”
Rudd, 55, needs to quickly rally the Labor party and clarify his policy priorities as polls taken in the wake of his return as leader indicate he may help avert a wipeout to the Tony Abbott-led coalition opposition at this year’s election. The ruling party’s talent pool has been drained by ministerial resignations, dismissals and reshuffles from three leadership spats since Gillard’s ouster of Rudd in 2010.
“The new ministry needs to strike a balance of rewarding Rudd’s allies who have stuck by him for the past three years, and keeping some of Gillard’s backers to prove to voters he can be conciliatory and not vindictive,” said Zareh Ghazarian, a politics lecturer at Monash University in Melbourne. “He doesn’t want to lose all the experienced talent already there because the ranks of senior Labor people have been bled dry.”
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