Connect to share and comment

Australian PM says she's "not done yet"

PlacardEnlarge
(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard rallied her Labor party Sunday, saying her government was "not done yet" despite a turbulent week in which two of her most senior ministers resigned.

Gillard, who is struggling in opinion polls, last week announced that the next election will be on September 14, a surprising tactic in Australia where poll dates are usually announced only weeks in advance.

Addressing Labor candidates in Canberra, the prime minister said she was committed to creating jobs and improving opportunities and it was important that voters heard this message.

"I'm looking to you to be out there in your communities explaining to them that this is the work of governing and we are not done yet," she said.

Gillard, Australia's first female prime minister, on Wednesday took the unprecedented step of giving the nation eight months' notice of the federal election. Three days later she announced that two key ministers were resigning.

Attorney General Nicola Roxon and Minister for Tertiary Education Chris Evans, two of Gillard's most trusted colleagues, have quit cabinet and will retire from politics this year because of family reasons.

The shock departures come just days after ex-Labor MP Craig Thomson was arrested on fraud charges. The conservative opposition has declared Labor has had a "horror start" to the year.

"It is going to be very important in the days and weeks ahead that there is a strong and stable government in Canberra and I regret to say that just at the moment that doesn't appear to be the case," opposition leader Tony Abbott said.

"Now I hope the prime minister can steady her ship and offer stable government."

The government has brushed off the suggestion that it is in chaos, with Transport Minister Anthony Albanese saying the resignations were understandable.

"Let's get real. We have had a couple of people step down for family reasons, there is no suggestion that there is any reason other than personal ones and understandable ones," he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Mark Dreyfus will be sworn in as attorney general, Brendan O'Connor as immigration minister and Chris Bowen as tertiary education minister in parliament on Monday.

Gillard leads a minority government with the support of one Greens MP and several rural independents after the last election in 2010 ended in a hung parliament.

mfc/sm

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130203/australian-pm-says-shes-not-done-yet