04 February 2013

New Australian immigration minister announced

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With the resignation of two senior ministers, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has made a quick reshuffle to her Cabinet, including appointing Brendan O'Connor as the new Australian immigration minister.

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Prime Minister has shuffled her Cabinet ahead of September's election.

Ms Gillard announced last week that the next federal election would take place on 14 September, and, with not all of her ministers looking to continue after the current parliament, the prime minister wanted to get her house in order as soon as possible.

Attorney General Nicola Roxon and Senate Leader Chris Evans' resignations have triggered a reshuffle of ministerial positions which have mean current Immigration Minister Chris Bowen taking up the vacating Mr Evans' portfolio for tertiary education, skills, science and research.

Brendan O'Connor, a UK-born member of the Australian House of Representatives, will take over as minister for immigration, with his current portfolio of small businesses, housing and homelessness also going to Mr Bowen.

Mr O'Connor is seen as a capable politician having been in parliament since 2001. He has served as a minister since the Australian Labor Party's 2007 victory; firstly as minister for employment participation and then as minister for home affairs during Kevin Rudd's ministry.

Under current Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Mr O'Connor has continued in a number of positions including minister for justice and minister for privacy and freedom of information. He was promoted to Ms Gillard's Cabinet in early 2012 when he was given the portfolio of small business, housing and homelessness.

As immigration minister, Mr O'Connor will be one of the most senior voices in Ms Gillard's government; he took the opportunity to thank the prime minister for the appointment on his Facebook page:

"I thank the Prime Minister for appointing me as Minister for Immigration and Citizenship in the Gillard Cabinet," said the new minister.

"I am honoured to take on this challenging role and I thank Minister Bowen for his hard work in this area. Australia is a country built on migration and, as a migrant myself, I understand the importance and complexities of the portfolios."


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