| 06.06,09. 08:32 AM |
Faulkner named Defence Minister
John Faulkner is to be the new Defence Minister
Mr Rudd joked the new Defence Minister was already being referred to as "Field Marshal Faulkner'' and was well qualified for the job and well respected in the defence community.
"Senator Faulkner is a man of great character and of great integrity and one of the most experienced and accomplished ministers in cabinet,'' Mr Rudd said.
Senator Faulkner, who was the Cabinet Secretary and Special Minister of State, replaces Joel Fitzgibbon who resigned from the job yesterday for breaching the ministerial code of conduct.
Senator Faulkner was previously a junior defence minister and veterans' affairs minister in the Keating Government.
"John Faulkner has a tough job ahead of him,'' Mr Rudd said.
"When it comes to experience, John has served with distinction in portfolios including veterans' affairs, as minister for the defence science and personnel in a previous Labor government, as well as having been leader of the opposition in the Senate between 1998 and 2004.
"I have absolute confidence that Senator Faulkner will discharge this responsibility with absolute professionalism and integrity, for which his career has already been known."
Mr Rudd said other ministerial changes would be announced in coming days.
'Steep learning curve'
Senator Faulkner said he had spoken to his good mates, the former Labor defence ministers, Robert Ray and Kim Beazley, about the new job.
He said he rang Mr Ray for a chat and Mr Beazley rang him, five times.
Senator Faulkner said he was delighted Mr Rudd had asked him to take the job and his immediate focus would be Australia's troops overseas, particularly in Afghanistan.
"I'm right at the bottom of a very steep learning curve,'' Senator Faulkner said.