1 Jul 2013

Kevin Rudd names new Cabinet

10:19 pm on 1 July 2013

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has announced a new Cabinet as another former minister announces his resignation.

Labor stalwart Simon Crean will quit at the federal election, bringing to an end a 23-year career in Federal Parliament. He is the latest in a string of senior Labor figures who have quit politics in the wake of last week's leadership change.

The exodus has paved the way for Kevin Rudd to make significant changes to his ministry, promoting his supporters and shifting those that backed Julia Gillard.

Power broker Bill Shorten, who spectacularly switched his support to Mr Rudd moments before the leadership ballot, is a big winner, taking on the education portfolio. He will also keep responsibility for workplace relations.

Victorian-based MP Richard Marles, who has been a strong supporter of Mr Rudd, has earned one of the biggest promotions, joining Cabinet for the first time as Trade Minister, the ABC reports.

Other newcomers include Jacinta Collins as Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, and Tasmanian MP Julie Collins, who will be the Minister for Housing, Homelessness and the Status of Women.

The two latter appointments, along with Cathering King, who will become the Minister for Regional Australia, bring the number of women in the Cabinet to six - the most in Australian history.

Mr Rudd denied the move was a peace offering to offset any backlash from his part in rolling Australia's first female prime minister, AAP reports.

"I'm a guy who believes in meritocracy, and when you find people of merit, they should be promoted," he told reporters on Monday.

Mr Rudd says his new team's top priority will be to keep the economy strong, but Opposition leader Tony Abbott dubbed Mr Rudd's frontbench as the "C team".

Simon Crean said he would quit politics at the upcoming election, saying his departure is an opportunity for "renewal". The former ALP leader said it is time for him to leave, after 23 years in politics and 40 years in public life, the ABC reports.

Mr Crean was Opposition leader from late 2001 for two years. He was elected as the member for the Victorian seat of Hotham in 1990 and before entering Parliament was a senior officer of the Australian Council of Trade Unions.

He is the latest in a string of senior Labor figures who have quit politics in the wake of last week's leadership change, including former Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Stephen Smith, Craig Emerson, Greg Combet and Peter Garrett.