Rudd's cabinet promotion of women questioned

Kevin Rudd denies he's promoted more women to his cabinet to make up for his ousting of Julia Gillard. Photo / AP
Kevin Rudd denies he's promoted more women to his cabinet to make up for his ousting of Julia Gillard. Photo / AP

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has rejected the suggestion he's promoting a record number of women to cabinet to stem a possible backlash among female voters for ousting Julia Gillard.

Mr Rudd will announce his new cabinet in Newcastle on Monday, which will include three new women in cabinet and a record 11 women ministers overall.

The promotions of Catherine King, Jacinta Collins and Julie Collins will bring the total number of women in cabinet to six. Penny Wong, Julie Macklin and Tanya Plibersek remain in cabinet.

"This will the largest number of women in the Australian cabinet in history, and the same for the ministry at large,'' Mr Rudd told the Seven Network.

"So this is a good time and a good day for Australian women and they are all appointed absolutely on merit and I am proud of them.''

Asked if he made the appointments because he feared a backlash from women voters after last week's leadership spill, Mr Rudd replied: "These are women who are strong, professional, highly experienced and they are there exclusively on their merit.''

Mr Rudd also referenced his family of strong women.

"If you are the son of a very strong woman, the husband of a very strong woman and the father of a very strong daughter... and I think the same for the granddaughter as well, what you know from day one is any decision has to be taken on its merits.''

In his first television interview since the leadership spill, Mr Rudd was also asked about a Galaxy poll that found 43 per cent of Australians think he's still chaotic and dysfunctional.

He defended his performance during his first stint at the helm and pointed out that some decisions had to be taken rapidly, such as securing international lines of credit.

"You come in with a series of pre-election commitments which I was determined to honour, six months later the global financial crisis hits and you are doing two jobs,'' he said.

"You are working from dawn until dusk trying to keep the economy alive and prevent mass unemployment, and dealing with everything you have solemnly committed to the Australian people.''

But he conceded that he had learnt a lot from his first term.

"If you don't learn things then you are a complete mug and I learnt quite a lot,'' he said.

"I think one of the things that you have got to get right is how you work with the consultation processes of the cabinet, the parliamentary party, as well as you can.''

Opposition frontbencher Greg Hunt said that while Labor's standing among voters has improved under Mr Rudd's leadership, he expects the shine to fade.

"The more people see of Kevin Rudd the less impressed they will be because he doesn't have the solutions and mostly he caused the problems,'' Mr Hunt told ABC Radio on Monday.

He also took a swipe at the prime minister's bid to appeal to female voters by including a record number of women in his new cabinet.

"Anything Kevin Rudd says about the promotion of women has to be judged against his own action of a savage, continuous clawing of the political skin of Julia Gillard over the last three years,'' Mr Hunt said.

- AAP

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