Martin Ferguson Resigns From Gillard Ministry; Second Departure Today

Martin Ferguson, the Minister for Resources and Energy, has resigned from the Gillard government.

Following yesterday’s leadership spill debacle, Ferguson said his resignation was “the only honourable thing to do”. He voted for Kevin Rudd in last year’s leadership ballot and would have voted for Rudd yesterday if the former prime minister had contested the ballot.

Ferguson is the second minister to resign today. The Minister for Tertiary Education, Chris Bowen, announced his resignation this morning.

  • Listen to Ferguson’s press conference (27m)

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Ferguson said he doesn’t support the idea of by-elections and would re-contest Batman at this year’s election.

Ferguson is also the Minister for Tourism. He has held both portfolios since the election of the Rudd government in 2007. He has been the member for Batman in Melbourne since 1996. He has been a member of the frontbench in opposition and government continuously since 1996.

Prior to entering parliament, Ferguson was President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) from 1990-96. He succeeded Simon Crean who was ACTU President from 1985-90. Crean was sacked yesterday after calling on Prime Minister Julia Gillard to call a leadership spill.

In his resignation press conference, Ferguson pointedly referred to Labor values. He spoke of his pride in being involved in implementing The Accord during the Hawke government and transcending “class war”. He praised social wage measures such as Medicare and called for more “give and take”.

Ferguson said the debate over media policy over the past two weeks demonstrated the need for the government to improve its cabinet processes.


Chris Bowen Resigns From Gillard Ministry

Chris Bowen has resigned as a minister in the Gillard government.

Bowen was the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills, Science and Research, and Minister for Small Business. He previously held the post of Immigration Minister.


In the Rudd government, Bowen held the posts of Assistant Treasurer, Financial Services and Competititon Policy.

At a press conference in Canberra this morning, Bowen said he felt that after voting against Prime Minister Julia Gillard once he could not remain in the ministry having opposed her a second time.

Bowen’s resignation follows yesterday’s sacking of Simon Crean and the resignation of Richard Marles. Ed Husic and Janelle Saffin also resigned as assistant whips whilst Joel Fitzgibbon is expected to resign as Chief Whip.

Bowen tweeted: “It was an honour to serve in Cabinet for four years. Thanks for your messages of support.”

  • Listen to Bowen’s press conference (23m)

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Transcript of Chris Bowen’s press conference.

BOWEN: Morning everybody. Twenty-five years ago, I joined the Australian Labor Party. Every day since then I’ve done what I thought is in the best interests of the Labor Party always.

Yesterday was a difficult day for the Labor Party. On that difficult day, I took the decision that the best thing for the Labor Party and for Australia would be for Kevin Rudd to return to the prime ministership. As you know, I’ve held that view for some time. That’s the way I voted last February. Having expressed that view, having worked towards it, last night after discussing the matter with my wife and close friends, I decided to resign from the Gillard Cabinet. I informed the Prime Minister of this earlier this morning.

I want to stress that other ministers will reach their own conclusion. Other ministers who supported Mr Rudd will reach their own decisions. This is what I regard as the appropriate and honourable decision for me and I completely respect the decision that other ministers may reach.

Being a member of the Cabinet, that group of 20 or so people that makes decisions, that guides a nation of more than 22 million, is a huge honour. A huge honour that hardly anybody as a proportion of the population gets to achieve. Even a small proportion of MPs, aspiring MPs get to sit in a Cabinet room of Australia. I thank Kevin Rudd for appointing me to the Cabinet and I thank Julia Gillard for maintaining me in the Cabinet. [Read more…]

ALP Leadership Spill: Live Blog

10.30pm – Channel 10 Late News surveys the day’s events.

8.15pm – Ed Husic, member for Chifley, one of the Assistant Whips, has resigned his position. Husic appeared on Sky News and confirmed his resignation. Janelle Saffin, member for Page, has also resigned. Earlier today, Chief Whip Joel Fitzgibbon said he was considering his position. He can be expected to resign prior to the resumption of Parliament in May.

Crean, Marles, Fitzgibbon, Husic and Saffin are the five of the six main victims of today’s leadership fracas. Rudd is the sixth.


7.50pm – The reaction of most people to today’s events is “WTF”, according to independent Senator Nick Xenophon. He told 7.30 that no-one will support Rudd again. Whilst the May Budget could be a “circuit-breaker”, the voters have the baseball bats out ready. He said Rudd should say he will never accept the leadership under any circumstances. Greens leader Senator Christine Milne says it’s too late now because all the bridges have been burnt. [Read more…]

Question Time Ended As Government Wins Technical Victory On Suspension Motion

2.50pm – Prime Minister Julia Gillard has ended Question Time, following an attempt by the Opposition to move a no-confidence motion in here.

The motion to suspend Standing Orders was carried 73-71 but failed because it needed to reach an absolute majority of 76 votes.

The House of Representatives has now moved on to routine business as Labor members left the chamber to prepare for the 4.30pm leadership ballot.

Sky News is reporting the Gillard camp claims it still has 58 certain votes to defeat Rudd.

Backbencher Graham Perrett (Moreton, Queensland) has said he will support Gillard. Parliamentary Secretary Richard Marles says he will support Rudd.

There are some suggestions from Sky’s Peter van Onselen that Kevin Rudd may not nominate. Rudd has maintained since his defeat in February last year that he will not challenge.

Sky’s Kieren Gilbert read a text he said was from the Gillard camp: “Simon Crean is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Rudd enterprises.”

Tony Abbott Attempts To Move No-Confidence Motion In Gillard

2.15pm – Ten minutes into Question Time, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott moved a no-confidence motion in Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

Denied leave, Abbott moved a motion to suspend Standing Orders to enable the no-confidence motion to be moved. He is now speaking to that motion. [Read more…]