07/07/2010 - 15:42

Faulkner to step down from ministry

07/07/2010 - 15:42


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Defence Minister John Faulkner has become the second senior minister in the Australian government to annouce plans to step down from his current role after the upcoming federal election.

Defence Minister John Faulkner has become the second senior minister in the Australian government to annouce plans to step down from his current role after the upcoming federal election.

Senator Faulkner plans to stay in Parliament for another term, but will step down from the ministry to allow for "generational change".

He said his decision was not related to Julia Gillard succeeding Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister.

Statement by Senator Faulkner follows:

When Labor was returned to office three years ago I made a commitment to Kevin and Julia to serve in Cabinet for the first term of our new Government. I reiterated this intention when I was asked to become Minister for Defence 13 months ago.

Last week I confirmed to Julia I would not be seeking to remain in the Ministry after the coming election. I have no doubt that for the Government, for our Party, and for me personally, this is the right time to make this decision.

I have been in full time politics for thirty years, including 21 years as a Senator. I've served as a Minister in two governments, and in Opposition I led my Party in the Senate for almost nine years. I know this is the time to step down.

I believe the Government is well placed to win a second term, but I also believe in generational change. We have a talented caucus and one whose members, I feel, deserve the same opportunities I've had over many years.

The Prime Minister and I discussed the matter again two days ago.

She asked me to reconsider and stay in Defence, but she understood my decision to leave. However, she was adamant I could best serve the interests of the Government and the Party by recontesting my Senate seat and remaining in Parliament.
She has persuaded me to do so.

Inevitably, some will suggest the recent change in our Party's leadership is responsible for my decision. I cannot say strongly enough that any such speculation is just plain wrong. Julia Gillard has my absolute support.

I was unstinting in my efforts to see Kevin Rudd elected Prime Minister three years ago and no one will work harder than me for the Government's re-election under Julia's leadership.

During my career, I've been fortunate to have served in five portfolios in two Governments under three Prime Ministers, most recently as Minister for Defence.

No Minister and no parliamentarian can be effective without others working for them and with them. My staff have been outstanding and I thank them all.

There is no greater responsibility for national government than the defence of Australia, our people, and our interests. It has been, for me, a challenge and a privilege in meeting that responsibility.

I want to acknowledge the unequivocal support of the entire Defence establishment and the leadership, professionalism and dedication of the Chief of the Defence Forces, Angus Houston, and Defence Secretary Ian Watt. They have embraced the challenge of change and I could not have done my job without them.

My thanks and appreciation goes to all in Defence.

I said at my first press conference after my appointment in June last year that I had confidence in Defence and highexpectations. I have not been disappointed. Defence has become, I believe, more accountable, more transparent, more efficient, more strategic and better prepared for the future.

For those men and women who serve in our defence force -- and I've met many of you and your families now - I'd like to say that what I've been doing as a politician for the greater part of my working life is of relatively minor consequence compared to what we expect of you in the myriad hardships, dangers and too often sacrifice in the service of your country.

While I'm leaving as Defence Minister I will not ever forget those soldiers killed and wounded, and those still fighting in Afghanistan.


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