Gillard axes Rudd supporters from Aus Cabinet

Melbourne: Days after humbling her long-standing rival Kevin Rudd in a dramatic political tussle, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard stamped her authority on her new cabinet by parachuting former state premier Bob Carr as the new foreign minister.

In a swift cabinet reshuffle, capping a chaotic week in the nation`s politics, Gillard axed Kevin Rudd`s most vocal backer housing minister Robert McClelland, dispatching him to the backbench, Australian news agency AAP reported.

Carr, the former premier of New South Wales, the new incoming foreign minister, said after taking over that his top priority would be fine tuning Australia`s response to the economic revolutions of China and India.

"I would be tending to the region," he said in apparent reference that his focus would be on Asia. Carr is expected to take the Senate seat being vacated by retiring minister Mark Arbib.

Gillard sprang a surprise as many in her ruling Labor party expected the defence minister Stephen Smith to be named as the foreign minister.

The change of guard was effected after Gillard easily defeated her rival Rudd in a party Caucus on Monday and after the announcement, told reporters in Canberra that her move was a way out to reunite her fractured party and cabinet. She insisted that the drama-riddled power challenge had not played a role in the cabinet reshuffling.

Two more Gillard supporters, senator Kate Lundy and New South Wales MP David Bradbury, were promoted into the respective ministries of sport and assistant treasure. Another Rudd supporter to face the axe was Senator Kim Carr, who was shifted sideways from manufacturing to human services.