More women promoted to Australia's Cabinet

July 2, 2013 at 6:08 AM
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CANBERRA, Australia, July 2 (UPI) -- Australia's new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd unveiled his Cabinet that includes more women than did his female predecessor's line-up.

Among the new Labor government ministers sworn in at a ceremony at Government House in Canberra are Jacinta Collins as Minister for Mental Health and Aging, and Julie Collins, an MP from Tasmania who becomes Minister for Housing, Homelessness and the Status of Women.

Catherine King was sworn in as Minister for Regional Australia, taking the number of women in Cabinet to 11 out of 30 members.

This is two more than under former Prime Minister Julia Gillard and the most women in Cabinet in Australian history, Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

The swearing in took place less than a week after Rudd defeated his one-time Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard in a close leadership contest among Labor Members of Parliament.

Rudd denied he was buying women's votes and told television station SevenNetwork that the women Cabinet members are "strong, professional, highly experienced and they are there exclusively on their merit."

Rudd hasn't confirmed the Sept. 14 date for a federal election that Gillard tentatively set, but said it won't be far off that date.

Earlier opinion polls, when Gillard was in power, put the opposition well ahead of Labor for an election win. But since Rudd's victory over Gillard, a recent Newspoll survey put the coalition opposition led by the Liberal Party only slightly ahead of Labor.

With an eye to the upcoming election, opposition coalition Liberal leader Tony Abbott described Rudd's Cabinet as "not even the B team, it's the C team," ABC reported.

Julie Bishop, Deputy Liberal leader, said the Cabinet was a "ministry of hypocrisy" that was divided.

"There are a number of people who will remain as ministers who have said publicly that they think Kevin Rudd is unfit to be the prime minister," she said.

Gillard, however, won't be running in the next election. She announced she was resigning from politics following her defeat at the hands of the man she had overcome in a leadership contest soon after Labor won the 2010 election.

In 2010, Labor and the opposition coalition of the Liberal and National Coalition parties each won 72 seats in the 150-seat House of Representatives.

It was Labor, after gaining support from the Green Party member of the House and three independents, that formed a minority government.

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