Senior Labor ministers resign 48 hours after election date announcement.

Two senior Labor ministers have resigned only 48 hours after Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced this year’s election date.

Senator Chris Evans

Higher Education Minister and Leader of the Senate, Chris Evans, resigned from his cabinet post and leadership position this morning.

Attorney-General Nicola Roxon has also resigned, citing the desire to spend more time with her family as the main reason behind her decision. Senator Evans has not given a reason for his resignation, but says he has enjoyed the last 18 hours of speculation surrounding the announcement.

Evans and Roxon are both significant political figures who have overseen extensive policy reform and played a key role in the Rudd and Gillard cabinets.

“They certainly go with my thanks and they will be able to reflect on a proud track record of achievement,” Prime Minister Gillard said during a press conference in Canberra this morning, adding that she has been discussing the ministers’ moves with them since last year.

The Prime Minister also announced a limited reshuffle in her ministry.

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen will take Senator Evans’ portfolios of higher education, skills, science and research. MP Mark Dreyfus will replace Ms Roxon as Attorney-General and Minister for Emergency Management, while Justice and Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare has been promoted to Cabinet Secretary.

Housing Minister Brendan O’Connor will take on the difficult immigration portfolio, whilst Mark Butler will take on Housing and Homelessness and Mike Kelly will enter the Ministry as Minister for Defence Material.

The Labor caucus is likely to vote in the new Senate Leader on Monday, and the swearing in of the new ministers is also expected to take place on the same day, the Prime Minister said.


Last night, one unnamed senior Labor MP reportedly told the Weekend Australian that “Rome is burning”.

Attorney-General Nicola Roxon

The resignations follow a dramatic week for Labor. On Wednesday the Prime Minister shocked political commentators by announcing the date of the election almost 9 months in advance.

And on Thursday, MP Craig Thomson was arrested and charged with 149 counts of fraud. This follows almost 2 years of speculation about Mr Thomson’s involvement in alleged fraudulent activity within the Health Services Union.

The Opposition had speculated that the Prime Minister’s naming of the election date early was linked to the fact she may have had prior knowledge of Mr Thomson’s arrest. Government figures have dismissed this suggestion.

Regardless, what should have been a positive week for Labor as they set their sights firmly on re-election and caught the Coalition by surprise, has become a total disaster.

Many will be questioning why two such senior figures are standing down ahead of the election. Reshuffles and changes within the cabinet are also likely to cause Labor MPs to look to the top of the ticket – wondering whether they should be reshuffling the leader’s position as well.

Why do you think these two senior Ministers have resigned? Do you think Julia Gillard will lead Labor to the September 14 election? Have this week’s events affected who you are likely to vote for?