24 Jun 2010

Pacific unaffected by sudden Australia leadership change

6:52 pm on 24 June 2010

Commentators in Australia says foreign affairs and the Pacific are unlikely to be a priority for the country's new Prime Minister.

Julia Gillard has been sworn in as Australia's first female Prime Minister after Kevin Rudd stood down as leader of the ruling Labor Party.

The new Prime Minister is expected to focus on domestic issues such as a mining tax and the postponement of a carbon trading scheme which contributed to Mr Rudd's declining popularity.

The Asia-Pacific editor for the Australian newspaper, Rowan Callick, says Ms Gillard does not have a great knowledge of Pacific issues, but is a bright person who can pick things up as she needs to.

He says Mr Rudd's former deputy is likely to follow the Labor Party tradition in foreign affairs policy

"It's hard to see any change there, I mean we have got a huge amount of change there, we have got a huge amount tied up into AUSAID and a big commitment to RAMSI in Solomon Islands so there won't be any change, the commitment will be there. But these things take time to build up political understanding and interest."

Rowan Callick says it's hard to say whether Julia Gillard will attend the August meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum, which Australia currently chairs.