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Bob Carr named Australia's new foreign minister

02 march 2012, 18:09
Former state premier Bob Carr. ©AFP
Former state premier Bob Carr. ©AFP
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Friday named former state premier Bob Carr as foreign minister as she asserted her authority following a leadership challenge, AFP reports.

Carr, the ex-leader of New South Wales, will become the nation's top diplomat after Kevin Rudd suddenly resigned last week to challenge Gillard and Senator Mark Arbib also quit in the wake of spectacular Labor Party infighting.

"I have put together a team that will best equip my government to pursue our priorities for the nation," Gillard told reporters about the forced reshuffle.

"Bob Carr will join the Senate, and will take on the role of Minister for Foreign Affairs."

Defence Minister Stephen Smith had been considered the frontrunner for Rudd's old job.

The move follows a period of unprecedented rancour within Labor, with ministers dividing between the two candidates for the party leadership.

Several ministers who backed Rudd -- including Immigration Minister Chris Bowen and Resources Minister Martin Ferguson -- kept their jobs but Robert McClelland was dumped as minister for emergency management.

Carr said he admired Rudd, who lost the leadership ballot 71-31 and returned to the backbenches, and would be seeking his advice on the role.

"In the end when the distinctive voice of Prime Minister Gillard rouses you from your slumber and says will you be foreign minister of Australia, I couldn't have found it in me to have said no," he said.

A former journalist, Carr was considered one of Australia's most influential politicians when he stepped down in 2005 after a decade as leader of New South Wales, which includes Sydney and is the country's most populous state.

He pulled the New South Wales Labor Party out of the dumps to first be elected premier in 1995.

"I was offered the opportunity to sign on for more public service and I couldn't say no," he said at a press conference with Gillard.

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