View Comments
Carr gets Foreign Ministry in Gillard reshuffle shock
Carr gets Foreign Ministry in Gillard reshuffle shock

Julia Gillard has stared down internal and external critics and in a stunning move appointed former NSW premier Bob Carr as Foreign Affairs Minister.

Senior WA Labor frontbencher Stephen Smith, who had been expected to be the new minister, was retained in Defence.

The changes, prompted by Kevin Rudd’s failed leadership bid, were bigger than expected.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott criticised the announcement, saying Mr Carr would bring the NSW disease to Canberra.

Mr Carr had been set to be named foreign minister earlier this week but the move was reportedly vetoed by colleagues.

The Opposition had targeted Ms Gillard during Parliament for her handling of the matter.

Ms Gillard offered him the job yesterday, saying she wanted the “best possible team”.

Mr Carr confirmed he would seek re-election as a senator at the next election.

“I was offered the opportunity to sign on for more public service and I couldn't say no,” he said.

He paid tribute to Mr Rudd as a fine foreign minister.

Asked if he would do anything differently compared to Mr Rudd, Mr Carr said: “I wouldn't nominate anything now.”

But as he feels his way through the portfolio there would inevitably be changes of emphasis, he said.

Mr Carr said he hoped to garner more bipartisan support from the opposition on foreign policy questions.

He said he had a cooperative relationship with coalition foreign affairs spokeswoman Julia Bishop.

The Prime Minister axed NSW right-winger Robert McClelland, who declared during the leadership fight that Ms Gillard could not win the next election.

A spokesman for the former minister said a short time ago that Mr McLelland was considering his future.

But another Rudd supporter, Kim Carr, has kept his job in the ministry, being shifted from manufacturing

Promoted into Cabinet was Victorian left-winger and Gillard loyalist Brendan O’Connor, who becomes Minister for Small Business, Housing and Homelessness.

Attorney-General Nicola Roxon will take on responsibility for emergency management, previously held by Mr McClelland.

Trade Minister Craig Emerson has added “Competitiveness” to his title, focussing on Australia’s international competitiveness.

He will continue to act as Foreign Affairs Minister until Mr Carr takes over.

Mr Carr said he could not say no to an offer to perform more public service.

“You don't choose the moment, very often the moment chooses you,” he said at a press conference today.

Coming into the outer ministry is ACT Senator Kate Lundy as Minister for Sport and Multicultural Affairs.

NSW right-winger David Bradbury, who said he would get a tattoo of Ms Gillard to prove his loyalty, becomes Assistant Treasurer.

Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare will take on the extra job of Minister for Defence Materiel, a portfolio he previously held.

The reshuffle was triggered by Mr Rudd’s failed leadership bid, he lost 71-31. As well as finding a new Foreign Affairs Minister, Ms Gillard had a spot to fill in the outer ministry following the resignation of NSW right-wing warlord and “faceless man” Mark Arbib, who was the assistant treasurer and sports minister.

Mr Carr, who has long held ambitions to be foreign minister, said he “couldn’t have found it in me to say no” when asked by Ms Gillard to serve in the role.

A keen scholar of American history and supporter of the US alliance, Mr Carr signalled Australia would still continue its bid for a seat on the UN Security Council.

He also acknowledged the good work done by Mr Rudd, particular in the area of Burma.

Mr Smith held the foreign affairs portfolio after Labor won power in 2007 but had to relinquish it as part of a deal to accommodate Mr Rudd after the 2010 election.

Mr McClelland, who was attorney-general up until Ms Gillard’s December reshuffle, was the biggest casualty.

The NSW Government needs to expedite Mr Carr’s appointment to the Senate but the new ministry will be sworn in on March 5.