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