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Australia PM announces cabinet changes

Feb. 2, 2013 at 3:44 PM

SYDNEY, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced a surprising government shake-up, two days after calling an election for September.

Gillard said Attorney General Nicola Roxon and Senate leader Chris Evans were stepping down. The announcement shocked Labor Party members who had already questioned Gillard's political strategy in the wake of several embarrassing political setbacks, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Sunday.

Roxon and Evans both said they wanted to spend more time with their families and Gillard insisted the move had nothing to do with recent political scandals plaguing her government.

Labor members of parliament whose names were not reported expressed concern, the newspaper said.

''This is not a cunning plan ... it's ridiculous," one MP said.

The Morning Herald described Labor members as frustrated with Gillard's government, which they see as lurching from one crisis to the next.

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