Just two days after the announcement of a federal election date, the Government faces a major cabinet reshuffle following Senate leader’s Chris Evans expected resignation from the ministry.
It was reported today the minister for tertiary education, skills, science and research would formally announce his resignation in Perth tomorrow.
Uncertainty surrounds an announcement by Senator Evans’ on his future in the parliament, but the ABC reported he was expected to stay on in the Senate, where he has three years left on his term.
Senator Evans’ WA Senate colleague Mark Bishop was one of the first MPs to confirm the resignation by posting on Twitter that the exit of “a hardworking, competent minister” was “a great loss for federal politics”.
Senator Bishop later posted a tweet that the loss of Senator Evans “has potential for serious organisational harm in WA for Labor”.
“Sure PM is considering that point,” he wrote.
With Prime Minister Julia Gillard facing a cabinet reshuffle just two days after announcing the September 14 federal election date, Fairfax Media speculated that Immigration Minister Chris Bowen was likely to be moved into the higher education and skills portfolio.
It also suggested Schools Minister Brendan O’Connor may take the immigration portfolio while Stephen Conroy was believed to be keen to take over from Senator Evans as government leader of the Senate.
A spokeswoman for Senator Conroy, who is currently the government’s deputy Senate leader, said she could not confirm he would take the reins from Senator Evans.
A spokesman for Chris Bowen said he was unable to comment on the expected resignation.
Senator Evans, first elected to the Senate in 1993, was a supporter of Ms Gillard in the leadership contest with Kevin Rudd in February last year.
There is speculation he will announce he is resigning for family reasons, and in particular because of the pressure of the long commutes between Perth and Canberra.
Mark Riley of Seven News wrote on Twitter that Senator Evans had informed Ms Gillard of his decision last week and that sources say he had been considering quitting the ministry for more than a year.