New Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard left dumped ex-leader Kevin Rudd out of her first Cabinet yesterday as she announced a minor pre-election reshuffle after her spectacular rise to power.
Gillard said trade minister Simon Crean would take over the education and employment portfolios that she vacated after becoming Australia’s first woman prime minister in last week’s quickfire leadership challenge.
Rudd, who was left in tears by the sudden party revolt, will remain sidelined until after polls that could be just weeks away.
“This will be a close, hard-fought contest, but if the government is re-elected, I will be very delighted to welcome Kevin Rudd into the Cabinet in a senior position,” Gillard told reporters.
“I have determined that it is best to have as limited a reshuffle as possible to keep the maximum stability amongst the team and to keep our focus on the work that Australians need the government to be doing,” she said.
The leadership change has delivered an early boost, with Labor returning to a seven-point advantage and Gillard well ahead of opposition chief Tony Abbott as preferred prime minister, according to the latest Newspoll.