Gillard promises ministerial changes

 

To call an election in ‘coming months’.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard intends to reshuffle her cabinet and ministers, following her ascendency to Labor's top role today.

In her debut public appearance as Australian Labor Party leader, Gillard committed herself to an Australia that "reward[s] those who work the hardest, not complain the loudest".

Gillard acknowledged the "achievements and errors" of the previous Rudd Government, stating that "I take my share of responsibility for decisions made by the Rudd Government".

Looking back on three-and-a-half years of "the most loyal service I could offer to my colleague, [former Prime Minister] Kevin Rudd", Gillard said she pursued the leadership role as she believed the party had "lost its way".

As Labor's new leader, Gillard promised to draw more heavily on the best efforts of her ministers, cabinet and caucus - something her predecessor was criticised as failing to do.

"It's important, if you lead a team, to rely on the collective efforts of the team," she said.

"Of course, there will be some consequential changes in the cabinet and ministerial positions; I will announce these in due time."

Some in the technology industry have speculated that a front-bench reshuffle could see Communications Minister Stephen Conroy replaced by Canberra Senator Kate Lundy, who served as Shadow Information Technology Minister from 2001 to 2004.

Lundy was among the first Labor Senators to voice her support for Gillard after the leadership challenge was announced late last night.

Noting that she had been raised to the position of Prime Minister by her colleagues, and not the Australian public, Gillard said she would speak to the Governor-General about holding a general election "in the coming months".

The Prime Minister also said she would speak with Rudd about "his future in the Labor Government".

Earlier this morning, in an emotional last public appearance as Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd said he hoped to follow his quarter century in the Labor Party with another 25 years of service.

"I will serve it [the Labor Government] in any manner that I may be of service," he said. "I will be recontesting the next election in the seat of Griffith [in Queensland]."

Flanked by his wife, Therese Rein and children Jess, Nick and Marcus, Rudd highlighted his Government's achievements, including abolishing Work Choices and establishing next-generation infrastructure in the form of the National Broadband Network.

"I'm proud of the fact that we've kept Australia out of the recession," he said.

"I'm proud of the fact that we've started to build the nation's infrastructure [in a way that will] fundamentally change access to the internet and the way that education is delivered.

"What I'm less proud of is the fact that I have now blubbered," he said amid a series of long, emotional pauses.

Gillard's policy targets

Also in her maiden press conference, Gillard flagged her intention to back down on Rudd's controversial mining taxes, announcing plans to "negotiate" with the industry and discontinue the Government's related advertising campaign.

She also told journalists that Australia's Budget "will be in surplus by the year 2013," and announced plans to work towards introducing an emissions trading scheme both internationally and in Australia.

"I believe in climate change; I believe human beings contribute to climate change. It is disappointing to me that there is no price on carbon [emissions] currently," she said.

NSW Premier Kristina Keneally offered Gillard her congratulations - and Rudd, her thanks - on Twitter this morning.

"Acknowledge and thank Kevin Rudd for his leadership, especially on health and hospital reform & national apology to the Stolen Generation," she posted.

"Congratulations to Julia Gillard, Australia's 1st female Prime Minister. A passionate advocate for families. Look fwd to working with her."

Twitter has been abuzz with discussion of the leadership #spill, with "Julia Gillard" one of the top trending topics today.

On Facebook, Gillard has attracted what she may consider less desirable attention, with "fans" posting unflattering edited images to her page.


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