3 Mar 2012

Carr new Australian foreign affairs minister

1:59 pm on 3 March 2012

After a turbulent week in federal politics, former New South Wales premier Bob Carr will take the job of Australian foreign affairs minister in a cabinet reshuffle announced by Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Friday.

The reshuffle is the second in three months. The changes follow a leadership challenge on Monday that forced Kevin Rudd to the backbench and triggered the resignation of sports minister Mark Arbib.

The ABC reports ALP frontbenchers earlier vetoed Ms Gillard's choice of Mr Carr. Defence Minister Stephen Smith had been widely tipped to take the job.

Mr Carr will enter Parliament via a Senate vacancy in NSW. He is likely to take his seat on 13 March.

The ABC reports it appears Ms Gillard prevailed over any opposition.

She said she was delighted Mr Carr had accepted her offer, which was made on Thursday.

''I was in two minds," said Mr Carr. ''I was drawn to public service but I'd been out of it for a good six years.

"But in the end when the distinctive voice of Prime Minister Gillard rouses you from your slumber and says 'will you be foreign minister of Australia?', I could not have found it in me to have said no.

"When the Prime Minister asked me, I said 'I'm enlisted, it's an honour to serve'."

He paid tribute to the achievements of his predecessor, Mr Rudd, and said he will be asking for his advice.

Mr Rudd said Mr Carr is an "excellent choice" to replace him.

"I have known Bob for 20 years and regard him as a good friend," Mr Rudd said in a statement.

The new ministry will be sworn in on Monday.

Bob Carr

Carr, 65, retired from politics in 2005 after 10 years as premier of the New South Wales, where he played a key role in helping Sydney host the 2000 Olympics.

The ABC reports Labor's elder statesman is seen as one of the party's most experienced communicators.

Mr Carr refined his communication skills as premier of New South Wales. Before that, he was a journalist for the ABC and The Bulletin magazine.

A strong fan of American history and politics, he has been a regular writer on US politics.

In an editorial, The Daily Telegraph in Sydney says his elevation to the foreign ministry is a rare and welcome display of sound judgment from the Gillard government.

The Age says the Prime Minister got her way and showed she is calling the shots from a position of strength.

Pacific affairs

Mr Carr says his first visit in the role will be to New Zealand to discuss Pacific Island affairs.

He says he wants his department to devote more attention to issues in the South Pacific.