Australian defence minister to quit cabinet after polls

Sydney (ANTARA News/AFP) - Australia`s Defence Minister John Faulkner on Wednesday said he would quit the cabinet after coming elections, but denied his decision was prompted by last month`s abrupt change of prime minister.

Faulkner, a Labor Party heavyweight and a known ally of ousted leader Kevin Rudd, said he had always intended to step down after the government`s first term to encourage younger talent.

"Inevitably some will suggest that the recent change in our party`s leadership is responsible for my decision," he told reporters. "I can`t say strongly enough that any such speculation is just plain wrong."

Faulkner said new Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who deposed Rudd in a shock party coup, had persuaded him to contest his Senate seat in a bid to remain in parliament.
"Julia Gillard has my absolute support," he said.

"I was unstinting in my efforts to see Kevin Rudd elected prime minister three years ago and no one will work harder than me for the government`s re-election under Julia`s leadership."

Rudd made Faulkner defence minister in June last year after Joel Fitzgibbon stepped down.

Faulkner was famously caught unawares during last month`s rapid leadership challenge when he admitted knowing nothing about the drama unfolding behind the scenes in Canberra.

"It might be on the ABC news, but it`s also news to me," Faulkner said during a TV interview in the midst of the coup.

Source : http://antaranews.com/en/news/1278481735/australian-defence-minister-to-quit-cabinet-after-polls

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